The long-awaited Urban Campus of Scott Community College will celebrate its completion with a public open house from 4-7 p.m. Thursday featuring tours of its splashy new digs in downtown Davenport, refreshments, entertainment and free classes.
The campus is located between Main and Brady streets, facing 3rd Street, with an address of 101 W. 3rd St. It was created by the rehabilitation of two existing, three-story buildings on either corner, with a new, two-story connector space constructed in between.
Together with the City Square project developed by Restoration St. Louis on the south side of the same block, the entire square between 2nd and 3rd and Brady and Main streets has now been repurposed and revitalized, a total investment of about $94 million for the downtown.
The eye-catching features of the final portion of the Urban Campus to be completed — the east building next to Brady Street — begin on the outside where aluminum panels and crystal blue glass plate have replaced the building's former ribbed concrete exterior.
In a courtyard in front of the connector space, the ground has become a two-dimensional sculpture consisting of large squares of red, brown and gray rock and mulched green plants. The "EI" Eastern Iowa logo is spelled out in white rock.
Inside the front door, you're greeted by an employee at a reception desk fronted with steel into which holes have been drilled, looking like so many bubbles in a glass of champagne. To the side is an LED message board.
To your left is the college coffee shop with sparkling countertops and one of numerous "huddle" areas throughout the building, defined by an oversized television screen and a seating arrangement. Students can view their projects on the large screen, making it easier to work together because everyone can see.
Walking up a new, metal-and-concrete staircase to the second floor, one comes to one of the building's most striking features: the blue room. The walls and the ceiling are painted a deep royal blue and the gray carpet is interspersed with large hexagons of three different shades of blue. Filling this "huddle" area are more seating arrangements and large screens.
In the middle of the east building is the original square atrium. Look down onto the first floor, and you'll see couches arranged to form the letters "S," "C," "C."
Other don't-miss features include the former vault, now holding vending machines, and a mahogany-paneled former board room that is the campus bookstore. Another feature you'll notice is that outside the multi-purpose rooms there are small electronic pads that will show when the room is booked using room-scheduling software.
An area that was once the drive-through lane of a bank has been hung with vibrant art work.
All told, the 72,000-square-foot space was built at a cost of about $32 million and is capable of serving 1,500 students. Spring enrollment at the Kahl building, the college's previous downtown location that has now been vacated, was about 300, LaDrina Wilson, dead of students, has said.
But "we think in three to four years, we can grow that to 1,500 people," Don Doucette, chancellor of Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, has said. "People will be attracted to the new facility and the new programs.
"One of the purposes (of the campus) was to continue to catalyze the downtown," Doucette said.
The $62 million City Square project on the south side of the block includes The Current Iowa hotel in the former Putnam Building, and class A office space in the former M.L. Parker Building. Among the Parker tenants is Wells Fargo Bank. The developer, Restoration St. Louis, is owned by Amrit and Amy Gill.
The Urban Campus project was first announced in August 2014, but experienced some delays as officials figured out the best way to finance it.
The architect for the project was Thalden Emery Architects, St. Louis, and the developer was Sam Estep, founder of Saratoga Capital Group, St. Louis, and formerly of Restoration St. Louis. Paragon Interiors, Davenport, designed inside finishes.