LAKE WORTH — Palm Beach State College is expanding and plans to build a campus in Loxahatchee Groves. The campus will be constructed on 75 acres at the northwest corner of Southern Boulevard and B Road. The new campus is geared toward residents in Loxahatchee Groves, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, Loxahatchee and The Acreage.

Construction will be completed in three phases, with the first phase costing between $20 and $25 million.  The Palm Beach State College District Board of Trustees voted last October to spend up to $4 million for architectural design, infrastructure and site work that is already underway.

In addition to architectural design, site paving, drainage and utility infrastructure, the first phase will include a three-story, 50,000–square-foot multi-purpose classroom administration building. 

The college heard it would get a funding injection on June 2. The Florida Legislature pledged $6 million toward construction of the first building on its new campus. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $68.9 million in the state’s 2014-2015 budget before signing the $77 billion spending plan into law. However, he kept in the new budget funding for Palm Beach State’s fifth campus approved by legislators. The $6 million in state funds, in addition to the local funds and partner contributions, will cover much of the total cost of the first phase estimated at $20 million to $25 million, the college said in a statement.

“Current and future residents of central-western Palm Beach County will benefit tremendously from having a Palm Beach State College campus in their community,” said Dr. Dennis P. Gallon, Palm Beach State College president. “We are very grateful to Gov. Rick Scott, our legislative delegation and our Board of Trustees for their support.  With this allocation, we are preparing to begin construction this fall on the first building.”

The college will first offer the Associate in Arts degree at the new campus. Educators are also studying various career program options to be located there, gathering information on workforce needs and getting community input, according to Dr. Grace H. Truman,  director, College Relations & Marketing.

Other Palm Beach State campuses are in Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Lake Worth and Palm Beach Gardens. The new campus is intended to serve the central-western region of Palm Beach County, an area that is largely underserved by public institutions of higher education, said Gallon.  “Current residents there face arduous commutes to attend classes at other campuses, and public transportation is not direct or timely for class attendance,” said Truman.

Palm Beach State College finalized the purchase of the 75 acres for the campus in October 2012 after considering several locations. It has received all of the necessary land-use approvals from the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council.

“The need for another campus in this area has been long established; the State Board of Education gave its approval eight years ago. We then faced challenges with site selection and with securing funding, so the current state allocation is certainly welcome and appreciated,” said  Truman.