Leaders of the new school


It’s official: The long-promised Hawaii Community College at Palamanui will break ground May 28.

The groundbreaking is slated for noon at the site located off Queen Kaahumanu Highway, just past mile marker 91, in North Kona, said Susan Lee, the University of Hawaii’s marketing and communication director.

Invited to make remarks during the event are Hawaii Community College Chancellor Noreen Yamane, University of Hawaii Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton, University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Mayor Billy Kenoi and others.

Lee said the groundbreaking is for phase 1A and 1B of the community college, which includes the first 24,000 square feet of learning space. That will include classrooms, laboratories and support spaces for 700 students in the culinary arts, nursing and health programs, and student services administration.

Construction will likely take 15 to 18 months.

University officials previously said the facilities would open to students in fall 2014. Lee was unable to provide an updated anticipated opening date as of press time Friday.

Funding is in place for the $22.7 million contract awarded to F&H Construction of Maui and California, she said. The funding is from various sources including about $17 million between state money and contributions from Palamanui LLC and $6.5 million in leftover revenue bonds that the university’s Board of Regents reallocated in February.

Right now, students attending University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii do so in classrooms scattered across a retail center in Kealakekua. Roughly 450 students currently attend school at that campus, which has 12,500 square feet of classroom and office space.

Planned second and third phases of the Palamanui campus would bring the community college’s capacity to 1,400 students. The 78-acre campus will be the UH system’s 11th campus.