November 6, 2019

Rendering
The College of the Florida Keys released this rendering of the proposed Upper Keys campus last year when the school was still named Florida Keys Community College.

Rendering The College of the Florida Keys released this rendering of the proposed Upper Keys campus last year when the school was still named Florida Keys Community College.

KEY LARGO — Prospective students of the College of the Florida Keys can plan on attending the school’s new Upper Keys campus for fall semester of 2021, according to college officials.

Construction of the new campus is expected to begin in January.

College of the Florida Keys President Dr. Jonathan Gueverra said that after contemplating a new location and scouting sites around the Upper Keys for a long time, the former Shell World at mile marker 106 became available and is the ideal location.

“We need to be in this building by August 2021,” Gueverra said of the “aggressive” construction timeline. Plans for the 38,000-square-foot facility were revealed last Friday during a public meeting at Coral Shores High School. Design elements will combine strength, functionality and beauty to greet motorists entering the Keys, Gueverra said.

The building will be constructed to withstand Category 5 hurricane winds, and each classroom will have at least three windows.

“We’ve tried to incorporate as much light as possible,” K2M Architect Devon Ayers said.

The ground floor plans show a library, study area, testing center, a student lounge, faculty room, conference room, maintenance facilities, administration center, and four adjoining classrooms devoted to HVAC, welding, electrical and plumbing. The vocational classes are separated by moving walls so that students may work on projects collaboratively.

The second floor drawing shows a public safety area, a gym, a weapons vault, a tactical center, a conference room, an auditorium with 160 stadium seats and a biology lab with an adjacent outdoor space. The left wing will be devoted to healthcare students and faculty with adjoining classrooms, five open office stations for teachers and two devoted offices for staff.

The Upper Keys campus will have about 150 parking spaces, according to Ayers.

Landscaping plans are still being designed, though native vegetation will be a focus, Gueverra said.

“We still have to find money to pay for landscaping,” he said.

The College of the Florida Keys acquired the property last August for $3 million. A $500,000 in-kind contribution was made by the previous owners, the Waterman family. The lobby will be named in their honor.

The college has been using classrooms at Coral Shores High School since 1998 and has largely outgrown the space, Gueverra said.

The new campus and the recent name change represents the college’s commitment to offer more than two-year associate degrees. In the past few years, the college has launched bachelor degree programs in management and nursing, and plans to add more four-year degrees over time.

The college also plans to expand five existing programs in the Upper Keys: nursing, emergency medical technician, marine environmental technology and public safety, which features law enforcement and corrections academies, and apprenticeships.

For more information, visit fkcc.edu or call CFK at 305-296-9081.

tjava@keysnews.com