PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — After receiving initial funding for a new STEM building eight years ago, Gulf Coast State College recently received more than $23 million dollars for the building from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The new building will be approximately 40,000 square feet, and will have laboratories for biology, physics, chemistry and other classes.
The current STEM building is over 60 years old, and contains an outdated air conditioner system and outdated classrooms. The college is unable to expand classrooms due to the wiring holding up the structure.
“Those classrooms are substantially subpar, in terms of even being able to adequately air condition them and heat them, and filter the air and that kind of stuff,” Gulf Coast State College President John Holdnak said. “So we will probably be demo-ing those sometime before construction on the next building begins.”
While some buildings will be demolished, beginning in about six months, others STEM facilities will be repurposed and modernized, Holdnak said.
While the college now has the full funds to begin construction, it is not allowed to begin building until July 1, 2021.
Gulf Coast is still determining where to build the STEM building, but Holdnak said it would likely be built on the foundation of a building that has been demolished. Doing so would save costs. That money can then be used solely for the new facility.
The STEM building will look similar to some of the newer businesses on campus, which have equipment that nurses and dentists use in the workforce.
By the early fall of 2023, Holdnak expects the college to have the same caliber of equipment for other STEM programs.
Building a new building will also be less expensive than continually updating the older infrastructure.
“It would be cheaper to tear everything down and build a new one, then it would be to try and repair that,” Holdnak said. “We’ve done upgrades the past forty years on it.”