York Continues to Lobby for New Academic Village and Conference Center

Blueprint of the proposed Academic Village and Conference Center Photo Courtesy: York College

By Danielle Cruz

During his visit to York College, Senator Leroy Comrie mentioned multiple times the possibility of York College receiving funding for the proposed Academic Village and Conference Center (AVCC) this June.

While Senator Comrie remained skeptical of Governor Andrew Cuomo agreeing to fund AVCC, he did say that getting funding for the building was one of the top priorities for the City University of New York Central office, which increases the chance for funding to be approved.

Since funding for capital projects were not decided during the adoption of the 2020 Fiscal Year budget, there is a chance that the school’s lobbying will pay off when the New York state legislature comes back into session.

“I support the academic core project and anything else that we can do for York College, I am trying to do at my level in the state senate,” said Comrie. “We normally get the capital right when we do the budget but the governor in his trickery has now decided that he is not doing capital until June because he is trying to beat up on us for other legislature, he is trying to reduce the amount of capital that we do overall.”

Funding for huge capital projects like the AVCC are almost never given in full, and are instead broken up into steps.

“Right now they need at least 50 percent committed before they move forward to the next level,” said Comrie.

According to Comrie, York would potentially receive around $300 million in June if they were approved and then gradually receive the rest of the money from then on.

The total cost to build the entire York Campus in Jamaica, during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, was $159,374,000.

According to a spokesperson for the college, “The Academic Core Building, which is the closest in size to the proposed AVCC, by itself was $109,980,000.”

Even after receiving the total funding required for the AVCC, it would still take another five years for the building to be completed, according to Comrie.

The AVCC, which was first approved by the CUNY board of trustees back in 2011, is supposed to be a nine-story, technologically-advanced facility, measuring more than 162,000 gross square feet that will be built where the Classroom Building currently stands. The Classroom Building was originally only meant to be a temporary structure when it was built.   

The AVCC is expected to help York keep up with their growing enrollment rate which in the past two years gone from 5,985 students to 6,095 students.

“The AVCC is one of our most important capital projects of the last 10 years,” President Marcia Keizs said in a statement. “The expansion is absolutely necessary to address our existing space shortage and to support future growth in enrollment and program offerings.”  

According to the blueprint for the AVCC, the building is expected to house the school of business, the art gallery, information technology, conference centers, the loading dock, the small business development center as well as a cafe, student lounge/recreational area, and sustainable rooftop garden.

David Patnaude, the Executive Director of Facilities Planning & Operations said even if York did not receive funding for the AVCC Building, the college has several renovation projects already lined up.

These renovations include elevator upgrades in the different buildings around campus, upgrades to the bathrooms are projected to start in 2020 in order to make the bathrooms accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and upgrades to the exterior entrances in the Academic Core are expected to begin on 2021.

Construction to the Faculty Dining Room, and Lecture Halls 2M04 and 3D01, construction is expected to start mid- summer and last 12 months. Renovations to the Performing  Arts Center are expected to start during the summer of 2020 and end in June 2022. Upgrades to the York Track & Field is expected start in September of 2020 and be completed in March of 2021.

The comprehensive lighting study and analysis that the Academic Core is currently undergoing is expected to result in energy saving lighting upgrades. The upgrades are expected to start in November of 2020 and be completed by Spring of 2022.

While funding for the AVCC is not guaranteed, President Keizs and various administrators remain hopeful that in the near future they will receive funding and until then will continue to lobby on behalf of York.

“We remain optimistic that with the help of our supporters in government and at CUNY, the AVCC will be built,” said Patnaude.

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