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QUINCY

Nursing school moving on to bigger campus

By Jessica Bartlett
Globe Correspondent / October 13, 2011

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Quincy College will begin moving its nursing school in January to a 100,000-square-foot site in Quincy Center, the first stage of a project that will consolidate most of the school’s activities in one downtown location by 2016.

The nursing school’s move follows last week’s approval by the Quincy City Council, but it’s a concept that has been in the works for some time. Last June, college officials sought permission to move the 13,000-square-foot nursing facility on Temple Street to a 29,000-square-foot location somewhere in Quincy Center.

The move was prompted by a steadily growing student body, said Peter Tsaffaras, the college president.

In the last five years alone, the size of the campus has expanded by 24 percent in Quincy, and by 62 percent at the school’s Plymouth location. Overall enrollment has grown to about 4,600 students this year from 4,500 last year at the two-year public community college, which awards a variety of certificates and associate’s degrees.

The college has also been increasing faculty by 10 percent a year to keep up with the demand.

Under a longstanding agreement, the City Council must approve any Quincy College lease that exceeds five years. Although college officials earlier received approval to go ahead with an eight-year lease, not to exceed 29,000 square feet, plans changed when they began talking with landowners in Quincy Center.

“We found we were able to get additional square footage at a lower cost,’’ Tsaffaras said. “As we’re constrained now, short of classrooms and other space, [this would help].’’

As a result, college officials approached city councilors again last week, asking to increase the amount of space in the lease to 100,000 square feet.

Now, with the approval of city councilors in hand, Tsaffaras said the college will move the Temple Street operations to a 100,000-square-foot space that can accommodate future growth.

Officials are weighing several alternative properties, and hope to enter a lease within the next 30 days. Once the move begins in January, it will continue until September 2012, when classes would begin in the larger downtown space. Until then, classes will remain at Temple Street.

It’s all a part of a larger plan to centralize the college’s operations in Quincy Center by 2016.

Currently, the college is spread out in three sites in the city - downtown locations on Saville Avenue and Temple Street - and at 150 Newport Ave. Ext. in North Quincy.

The idea is to lease the 100,000-square-foot space until the Quincy Center revitalization project is complete. That’s expected to be sometime late in this decade. At that time, the college would move from its North Quincy location and its leased facility to a larger, consolidated space in Quincy Center.

Officials also said they will keep the Saville location as a science center, since the building recently had a state-of-the art science facility installed that they wouldn’t want to redo elsewhere.

Tsaffaras said he plans to work with Street-Works Development LLC, which is handling the city’s massive downtown revitalization project, to procure a spot in Quincy Center, though it’s too early to tell where the space will be.

City councilors were excited to hear that Quincy College’s plans were on track. According to Kevin Coughlin, the council’s president, the move helps the city as well as the college.

“This is a sound procedure to move forward, consolidate your facilities . . . and get yourself back to Quincy Center, where we envision you ultimately being, going forward,’’ Coughlin said.

Coughlin said the college’s growth might be attributed to the fact that it’s convenient for many students on the South Shore, and offers a good education at a reasonable price. “It fits a niche for so many people,’’ he said.

According to the college’s website, tuition for most courses is less than $300 per credit, with the top rate of $587 per credit for registered nursing courses.

Although there are still a few hurdles to overcome, Tsaffaras said he is optimistic as things progress. “I’m struck by the commitment the councilors have towards the college,’’ he said.

Jessica Bartlett can be reached at jessica.may.bartlett@gmail.com.