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New Culinary School Facility Planned at Columbus State

Walker Evans Walker Evans New Culinary School Facility Planned at Columbus StateConceptual visual of a new Coumbus State facility from the 2013 Master Plan — Rendering via NBBJ.
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The culinary program at Columbus State Community College has been ranked as one of the Top 20 culinary schools in the United States. So it only makes sense that the expansion of the program would serve as a first step toward implementing the college’s large-scale master plan.

Originally unveiled in late 2013, the CSCC Master Plan proposes a transformation of the school’s Downtown campus that will eventually see acres of surface parking consolidated into parking garages, freeing up land for student housing and academic program expansion. While there’s been little announced since 2013, some of the first phases of the plan will start to take shape in the coming months.

“We’ve been working through a thoughtful process of exploration and engagement to bring the plans to life,” explained Pam Bishop, Executive Director of the Columbus State Community College Foundation. “The school of hospitality management and culinary arts it the first aspect of that plan.”

Bishop said that a feasibility study conducted last fall recommended the program warranted an expansion, and that public-private partnerships should be explored to make the project a reality.

“It’s really about the strength of this academic program, and that it’s one of the most visible assets of the college,” she stated. “Contrast that with the fact that the current facility is in basement of a 47 year old building. It’s an amazing program that we can’t expand because we don’t have the room.”

Columbus State has begun putting together an RFP that will hire an architect to help determine how the new facility could best be built.

“Right now, we’re looking at creating one new building on the campus, but the site has not been selected yet,” said Bishop. “We’ve received $10 million from the State capital budget, and that puts the next steps in action. We could easily utilize that $10 million to repurpose a space on campus, but instead we’re looking at this as an opportunity to really start working through the master plan, and create a signature building that not only elevates the program, but also provides a much richer educational experience for the students, and a catalyst for further development throughout the neighborhood.”

To help steer the project, Columbus State has assembled a “Kitchen Cabinet” comprised of local industry professionals, which includes Experience Columbus President Brian Ross, Nationwide Realty Investors President Brian Ellis, Wasserstrom Company President Brad Wasserstrom, Hot Chicken Takeover Owner Joe DeLoss, Fusian CEO Zack Weprin, CSCC President Dr. David Harrison and many others.

“The Kitchen Cabinet is working closely with CSCC to raise somewhere in neighborhood of $30 million,” explained Kichen Cabinet Member, Columbus State Foundation Board Member, and Cameron Mitchell President David Miller. “We hope to be able to build a facility that is state of the art, with nothing else like it within the immediate region.”

Miller said that he expects the building to provide somewhere between 75,000 to 100,000 square feet of space that would allow the program to double enrollment from 700 students to over 1,400 students.

“We have been looking at other spaces around the country to study their labs and kitchens and demonstration spaces,” added Bishop. “As far as programming goes, we’d love to offer more experiential learning opportunities, and we’d love to provide community cooking classes. There’s a lot of different models for public restaurants — and we haven’t chosen one — but they range from serving grab and go foods, to fast casual, or could even be used on occasion for fine dining.”

Firm timelines for the project have not been set, but Bishop said that the college is hoping to have something completed sometime in 2018.

Beyond the new culinary building, much of the CSCC Master Plan remains vague at this point.

“This is really the start of it,” said Bishop. “The capital funding from state included some funds for an Academic Success Center and a School of Business Technology. Those are much less defined, but would most likely go into existing spaces and not be new builds.”

For more information on Columbus State, visit www.cscc.edu.

Rendering via NBBJ.

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