ORLANDO — Valencia College trustees voted unanimously on July 23 to build the college’s new Poinciana campus on a parcel of land at the intersection of Pleasant Hill and Reaves roads.
The campus will be built on 48.8 acres of land donated to Valencia College by Osceola County.
“We had a tough choice between two very good sites,” said Dr. Sandy Shugart, Valencia College president. “But the big news is: We’re coming to Poinciana.”
Valencia College officials and Osceola County leaders have spent the past year lobbying state officials to approve and fund a new Valencia campus in Poinciana, a large unincorporated community that straddles Osceola and Polk counties. For high-school students who live in Poinciana, options for college are limited — and those who attend Valencia’s Osceola Campus in Kissimmee often face a bus commute of two hours to reach the campus. Some students spend four hours a day on the bus.
After the legislature approved $1 million in seed money, a site selection team from Valencia narrowed the choices down to two potential sites: a 15-acre parcel of land at Cypress Parkway and Laurel Avenue, which developer AV Homes offered to Valencia at below-market cost of $900,000; or the Pleasant Hill Road site that Osceola County officials offered to donate. After investigating both sites, Valencia officials chose the Pleasant Hill Road site because it was free and because it offered the college more land.
The first phase of the new Poinciana campus consists of a 65,000-square-foot building and will cost $23 million.
As the student population grows, the campus can expand. And, because the new campus will be located inside a 400-acre park that Osceola County officials plan to convert to a “learning village,” the college can share parking with other educational partners that plan to locate there.
“The opportunity to partner with others at this site is exciting,” Shugart said.
Construction will depend on state funding. College officials estimate that it could take two-and-a-half years to secure funding and begin construction.
But the college’s trustees urged Valencia officials to find a way to accelerate the construction. “I view this as closer to a genuine educational emergency,” said trustee Lew Oliver. “When 50 percent of Orange County high school graduates go on to college, but only about 35 percent of Poinciana students go on to college…That’s an awful lot of people whose future opportunities are measurably less bright because they don’t have access to a nearby college.”
The new campus will be located three miles from Liberty High School and five miles from Poinciana High School. And, for students who take the bus to campus, the route will be familiar: A bus stop is currently located at the corner of Pleasant Hill and Reaves roads.
For more information about the Poinciana campus, click here to read the Orlando Sentinel article on the Poinciana campus site.