Sept. 16, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College is making a major commitment to serving the residents of West Michigan’s lakeshore communities by purchasing the former JCPenney in the Shops at Westshore mall to become a consolidated GRCC Lakeshore Campus.
GRCC’s board of trustees unanimously approved plans Monday for administrators to start the process to purchase the 50,000-square-foot building in Holland Township, near the intersection of U.S. 31 and James Street, as the new Lakeshore Campus. The purchase price is expected to be about $2 million.
“GRCC is committed to serving Lakeshore learners of all ages,” board Chairperson David J. Koetje said. “This building’s location and size will provide the opportunity for more people to have access to the programs the GRCC Lakeshore Campus offers, improving and potentially transforming their lives.”
GRCC this fall enrolled about 1,900 Ottawa County residents. About 700 are taking classes in four Lakeshore locations: the Thompson M-TEC, Midtown Center, GVSU’s Meijer Campus and West Ottawa High School.
The new GRCC Lakeshore Campus building will allow GRCC to consolidate programs and student support services in a larger space, increase employer and educator partnerships, and enhance teaching and learning.
The location presents opportunities to expand programs. GRCC leaders will look for input from Lakeshore educators and community leaders on what additional programs would be most beneficial.
“This location enhances GRCC Lakeshore campus’s ability to be relative and responsive to our West Michigan communities,” President Bill Pink said. “Our college is uniquely positioned to help learners connect or reconnect with higher education. We’re proud of what we provide at the Lakeshore Campus now, and are excited to think about how we can impact lives there long into the future.”
The building is located on a bus line, making it more accessible for students, and is surrounded by businesses and services.
The building will require renovations for the conversion from department store to teaching and learning space. The goal is to have classes in the new GRCC Lakeshore Campus by the fall 2021 semester.
Pink said the college would transfer programs from the four current locations to the new GRCC Lakeshore Campus. The partnership with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District is -- and will continue to be -- strong.
GRCC has offered classes on the Lakeshore since 1989. The Lakeshore Campus currently offers classes leading to an Associate of Arts, Associate of General Studies, and Industrial Maintenance Technology-Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences degrees. One-year certificate programs include Industrial Maintenance, Industrial Technology, Tooling and Manufacturing, and Welding.
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.