dennis-gallon-1.jpgLAKE WORTH — Palm Beach State College has officially closed on the purchase of a 75-acre tract in west central Palm Beach County in a major advancement in its plan to erect a new campus to serve residents of that area.

The site at the intersection of Southern Boulevard and B Road in Loxahatchee Groves has more than 1,000 feet of frontage on the busy Southern Boulevard east-west artery. 

The college committed to the land purchase in February, and had to secure land-use approvals from the Town of Loxahatchee Groves before the sale could be finalized. The land was purchased from the Simon Family Trust for $4.5 million.

Palm Beach State’s next step will be to develop the campus master plan and the design for the first phase of construction. Building is projected to begin as early as the summer of 2013.

Officials project that around 18 months later, or by January 2015, the first students could be walking to class at the new campus.

“Acquiring the property has been an extensive process,” said Dennis P. Gallon, PBSC president, “but the ultimate result will be significant. We envision this land becoming a vibrant, valuable center of higher education for this area. 

“As the new property owners, we are eager to move forward to make the new campus a reality.”
Established in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State College today is the county’s largest institution of higher education, offering more than 100 programs of study at its Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens and Belle Glade locations and serving nearly 50,000 students annually.

The Loxahatchee Groves campus would benefit western students who otherwise would have to travel to Lake Worth or Belle Glade, for PBSC’s bachelor’s degree, associate degree, professional certificate, career training and lifelong learning programs. It comes after the school’s efforts to establish a Wellington campus failed to bear fruit.

The land purchase is being financed through college auxiliary funds, which PBSC receives from book store, cafeteria and vending machine proceeds, officials said. The college secured a five-year, $3 million loan from Bank of America to be paid with these auxiliary revenues so that general funds would not be diverted from current uses. 

The first construction phase will include roadwork and infrastructure improvements to the site. Some of those costs will be shared with the developers of a commercial shopping center on an adjacent site also being acquired from the Simon family. 

he college will pursue construction funding from the state, officials said, and also explore alternative funding sources to keep the campus project on track.