ELLSWORTH — The existing Hancock County Technical Center (HCTC) building on Boggy Brook Road might be getting a facelift. Or it might be replaced altogether.
A team from Oak Point Associates, who were chosen in October of 2020 to conduct a feasibility study and determine the best way to breathe new life into the 40-year-old building, presented their findings to the City Council during its regular monthly meeting on July 18.
“When we did the facilities assessment analysis … we found that a lot of great things had happened with a new roof, windows and some boiler work that was ongoing. But the building really has a somewhat limited ability to continue in its function without some major investment,” Tyler Barter, an architect from Oak Point, told councilors.
Barter said the existing 36,000-square-foot building requires significant structural upgrades, and that the mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems have exceeded their useful life. The team’s hope is to go beyond the basic upgrades needed, however. They hope to make improvements and expand the facility in such a way that it enhances the educational opportunities offered and allows the school to keep pace with burgeoning enrollment.
“With a 36,000-square-foot building, plus about six to ten thousand square feet located off campus, the building is right around 40 percent of the size that it would need to be to meet growing demand,” Barter explained. “I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways from the report, the amazing amount of education that’s happening in a somewhat small footprint.”
Barter’s colleague, Sarah Smith, an interior designer and space planner, explained that based on state standards and current best practices in education, the new facility should be about 94,000 square feet in order to accommodate each specific program.
“What happens in the school you have now, it’s mostly just classroom space and barely any lab space, or breakout space, or small group learning spaces that you see in today’s pedagogy,” Smith said. “So that’s why the floor plans are so much bigger.”
Barter and Smith presented three separate options to help get the building to that necessary square footage.
The renovation option, which would see two additional wings added on to the existing space, carries an estimated price tag of $52,907,300, give or take about $4 million, depending on whether space could be added for the Marine Trades program currently housed in Bar Harbor.
The second option, building a brand-new facility on the exact same site as the original building, would cost about the same at $52,978,500. Building a brand-new structure on a new site, behind the existing building, would cost about $57,783,500, not including land acquisition costs, title work or appraisals.
Barter also noted that these cost estimates were done in 2021 and that there would probably be a 7-10 percent increase on the price of materials in the current market.