1st 2 phases of NICC renovation project to be completed by fall

PEOSTA, Iowa — After a year of work, a large portion of the renovation to Northeast Iowa Community College’s Peosta campus is nearing completion.

The four-phase, $22.5 million renovation project started in June 2020 to update and create new spaces throughout the campus. The full project, funded by a $39 million bond levy passed in 2018, is expected to be completed in time for the fall 2022 semester.

But Rhonda Seibert, associate vice president of operations at NICC, said the first two phases of the project will be completed by this fall semester.

“Prior to the renovation, the main building was really a maze of hallways and classrooms, which made it difficult for students to find and navigate areas,” she said. “The new renovation really focused on making learning spaces accessible.”

The first phase will be done toward the end of July, she said. It includes building a connecting link between the main building and the industrial technologies building; new classrooms and office space; a new main entrance and vestibule; a “student zone” for laptop use outside classrooms; new steel siding; and a new dining area.

The second phase consists of updating current classrooms.

“The students will actually have access to entirely new classrooms with updated technology,” Seibert said. “That will include video monitors and furnishings. They’ll also have access to several student collaboration areas that they can use to do group work or use to visit if they like.”

She noted that the connecting link between buildings was one of the changes about which students have been the most excited because they no longer will have to walk outside. Comments collected from multiple focus groups of faculty and students contributed to the final renovation design, she said.

While construction will continue on the final two phases when students return in the fall, Seibert said it will not impact learning.

The third phase will start this summer and include the demolition of the old bridge entrance and work on new spaces for student services and faculty. The bridge previously served as the main entrance but no longer has that purpose, Seibert said, adding that it was “difficult to maintain.”

Phase four, which begins later this year, involves the construction of a new conference center. It will be available to both NICC and the public for events and will be able to fit up to 350 people, Seibert said.

Kirsten Slack-Collins, who will enter her second year at NICC in the fall, said she was looking forward to seeing all of the changes on campus, especially since she spent the majority of the last year taking classes remotely.

“I am actually very excited to get back on campus to see everyone and all the lovely teachers we have. I know the renovations are moving very quickly for the classrooms,” she said. “It will make the campus feel more like a college campus.”

She added that the updates to classrooms will provide a “better learning environment” for students.