Culinary Remodel Awaits Funding: Board Of Trustees Approves Unprecedented Dip into Reserves

By Léo Washburn in Campus

Culinary Expansion_Final Render

[Story updated 12/3/14 @ 10:03 a.m.] This story has been updated for accuracy.

Clark’s executive cabinet is planning to complete the first phase of the culinary program remodel by fall 2015.

Whether the remodel happens depends on whether funding and bureaucratic hurdles can be overcome.

If funded, the estimated $8.5 million culinary space will be relocated to the entrance of Gaiser Hall near the bookstore.

The culinary program has been on hiatus since winter 2014. Only the baking program operates. The original intent was for the remodel to begin by last summer quarter. LSW Architects renovated Gaiser Hall and was hired to work on the initial pre-design.

However, it proved to be too expensive, so the remodel start date was pushed back to determine the best way to move forward to save costs.

Clark College Foundation President Lisa Gibert said they plan on exploring a variety of options for funding and a multi-phased approach is being planned.

The culinary program and dining space is considered so vital to Clark, the Board of Trustees authorized up to $2 million be borrowed from their reserves to pay for the first phase, according to Vice President of Administrative Services Bob Williamson.

The first phase would begin with a “food court kiosk concept,” Clark President Bob Knight announced in an email Oct. 15.

This plan involves including space for outside vendors in a food court as well as relocating the plumbing and other infrastructure for baking.

How much this first phase will include is an ongoing discussion, Williamson said.

“We don’t know the scope of that yet,” he said. “We’re looking at $2 million as the amount we have in play for phase one. But I can’t give a specific number. We’re still defining the elements of phase one.”

Part of the challenge is the government system.

“We are dependent on the city of Vancouver and the state of Washington and a very large bureaucratic process,” said Tim Petta, Director of Facility Services. The process takes an indeterminate length of time according to Petta.

“Provided this can be funded, it’s an expensive proposition,” he said.

The cost to move the infrastructure is around $200,000 according to Petta.

The culinary space was built in 1958 and has seen only a few minor changes. Some of the main electrical controls “are near obsolete and hard to get parts for,” Petta said.

Some of the equipment has been upgraded over the years. Part of the feasibility study estimated $1.6 million in equipment replacement.

Dean of Workforce, Career & Technical Education Genevieve Howard is the advocate for the culinary program. She led the task force that determined what the campus wanted for food service.

Clark has had one of the longest standing culinary programs in the area according to Howard.

There aren’t many community college culinary programs because they are expensive to run. Privately run programs in the area can charge $50,000 for a certificate of proficiency Howard said.

Part of the culinary program curriculum includes how to build a business model to start their own business such as a food cart.

“Food carts are shaking up the economy,” she said. “They offer the opportunity for folks to kind of have a restaurant without the expense of a restaurant.”

It was time for the program to be renovated not only in terms of the space but to raise the bar with regard to the curriculum, Howard said.

“It’s a very costly program. But it’s a commitment the college has made. We’re now looking at it in a phased approach. It may not happen all at once but it’s going to happen incrementally.”

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