A $90 million, multi-year revitalization project is coming to Jefferson Community and Technical College’s downtown Louisville campus.

The first phase of the ambitious project, titled “Jefferson Rising,” will bring a will bring a new 40,000-square-foot science building, a parking garage and downtown’s second-largest green space (trailing only Waterfront Park) to the main square of the school’s campus, on East Broadway between First and Second streets. It’ll replace a parking lot, with construction set to begin later this month.

JCTC President Ty Handy said the development, located less than a block from Interstate 65, has the potential to serve as a front porch to downtown. He hopes the project will continue to push the school’s positive gains in graduation and retention rates as well as create a true campus community feeling at the non-residential school.

“We know this is the next logical step in the progression of this college,” Handy said. “It’s the same quality education, but we know with these new facilities, our students are going to have a sense of pride in place.”

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At a Wednesday press conference with about 200 people in attendance, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg praised the move as a cornerstone of the nascent Louisville Medical and Education District, the downtown partnership known as LOUMED of which JCTC is a member.

“Just to see what this new project is going to do for downtown Louisville is so critically important,” Greenberg said. “Downtown Louisville is truly on the cusp of some amazing revitalization right now.”

Three different construction firms will tackle the makeover. The four-story, 500-spot parking structure will come first as Handy estimated that crews with Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects will break ground later this month.

Approximately $20 million of the garage’s cost will be internally funded and will include dining options, offices, more public parking and 8,000 square feet of retail space. That development is expected to be completed by next fall.

The second piece will be the science building, an Omni Architects design that will be built after the existing 11-story Hartford Hall Tower is torn down. The state will cover about $22.5 million of the building’s estimated $25 million price tag through the Statewide Capital Improvements Plan.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said projects like JCTC are important for the future of Kentucky’s economy and for those seeking higher education in the Bluegrass State.

“We need to make sure that our students have all of the resources, that all of the facilities are updated to meet this historic moment,” Coleman said. “If we do this right, we can take three years of progress and turn it into 30 years of prosperity.”

The green space will be the final venture of the project’s first phase, designed by CARMAN Landscape Architecture. A small turf recreation field, a disc golf area, outdoor classroom space and other amenities will populate the area.

JCTC, home to more than 12,000 students as of fall 2022, is the largest of the 16 colleges within the Kentucky Community and Technical College system. Together, those schools combine to be the state’s largest postsecondary institution with more than 70 campus locations.

Reach reporter Caleb Wiegandt at cwiegandt@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CalebWiegandt.

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