DECATUR — Richland Community College moved one step closer Tuesday to building a 4,000-square-foot extension facility in Clinton.
The college’s board of trustees approved a 10-year lease agreement along with two five-year options that would give it a location in a development just off U.S. 51 near Clinton High School.
Richland is the first tenant to commit to the Douglas Subdivision development in which the city of Clinton has invested about $700,000 to attract new businesses.
“We’re going to be the first ones in there,” said Doug Brauer, Richland vice president of economic development. “We become a very significant anchor for that area.”
The facility would help Richland reach students in the northern part of its district.
“We have a real opportunity in Clinton to grow our presence there,” said Dale Colee, Richland board chairman.
Visibility off U.S. 51 was one of the factors in determining the location for the center, Brauer said.
“It will be very visible,” Brauer said. “People will know the college is going to be there.”
Richland would include classroom and other space similar to its extension center in Decatur’s Fairview Park Plaza, Brauer said. With a new facility, Brauer said it would be able to offer dual credit, transfer courses and community education such as dance, culinary arts and other special-interest classes.
Richland’s extension center in Clinton is located in the high school, which Brauer said constricts the hours it can be open, including being closed on evenings and weekends. Brauer said those times are usually most convenient in terms of class scheduling, particularly for community education classes.
“It’s just the right location to expand our presence there,” Brauer said. “We’re trying to take away some of those barriers. It’s our space at this point.”
The approximately $1.6 million lease agreement with Landmark Homes LLC is subject to Illinois Community College Board approval. If approved, Brauer said construction could begin as soon as December, with hopes to have it completed and ready to begin offering classes in fall 2013.
Although Richland will start off by leasing the facility, Brauer said the option to buy it remains a possibility.