AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo College announced that six large-scale building renovations and infrastructure upgrades are currently in various stages of progression.

AC said those six projects, four of which are on the Washington Street Campus, comprise Phase I of a three-phase, multi-year master plan empowered by Amarillo voters’ passage of an $89.2 million bond referendum in 2019.

Amarillo College’s Phase I projects are:

  • College Union Building renovation and relocation of the Art Department
  • Renovation of the Carter Fitness Center to house Athletics Department
  • Renovation of Russell Hall to accommodate a student-services hub
  • Remodeling Downtown Campus to accommodate Innovation Outpost
  • Remodeling old J.C. Penny Building to create a First Responders Academy at Sunset Center
  • Installation of four new water-cooled chillers to power HVAC infrastructure on the Washington Street Campus

AC said its master plan has been delayed by the pandemic, and by shortages wrought by disruptions to the global supply chain; however, all six projects are now moving forward, and one is already nearly complete.

“We lost about eight months to COVID, but now we are gaining momentum across the board,” Chris Sharp, vice president of business affairs, said. “We’re back on track and our excitement is building.

“Of course, we know we’ll all be inconvenienced over the next year or more. We ask our students, faculty and staff, even our visitors, to be patient during these renovations. Temporary department relocations and fluctuating parking patterns are an unavoidable part of the process,” he said, “but when the dust finally settles, our community will have a great deal to be especially proud of at AC.”

AC said its College Union Building (CUB) will help broaden its bookstore inventory and have a new kitchen to enable the café to offer a new line of affordable menu items. The basement, AC said, is nearly complete and sometime in November will become the new home of the Art Department, which is moving from its longtime location in Russell Hall.

Also in November AC said the process of renovating Russell Hall will begin. The remodel, designed by architects at Dekker, Perich & Sabatini, and being spearheaded by Western Builders, will transform Russell Hall into a new Enrollment Center and will contain all the student services – from Financial Aid and Testing Services to Academic Advising and Disability Services.

“We want this to serve as the ‘front door’ of our College,” Sharp said. “It will give us an amazing customer-oriented setting in which everything students need to get started at AC is in one convenient location. It will be a great resource for our community.” The project should take about a year to complete, he said.

Another renovation in the works, also being overseen by Western Builders, is the Carter Fitness Center. Amarillo College said this is an $11.3 million effort designed to meet both the College’s physical fitness needs and aims to return to competitive intercollegiate sports.

Another project in the works is a major upgrade to the chiller plant that powers the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) throughout the campus. AC said four new water-cooled chillers will be installed in the parking lot between the Science Lab Building and the Amarillo Museum of Art, replacing the 35-year-old system located beneath Parcells Hall.

Other Phase I projects are to establish an Innovation Outpost and the First Responders Academy at the Sunset Center.

“Our emergency services programs are currently spread out over multiple campuses and bringing them together under one roof has been something we’ve been striving to do for a while,” Sharp said. “This will be a state-of-the-art facility where we can optimally train the first responders who will serve communities throughout the Texas Panhandle and beyond for generations to come.”