ECC considers new development on North Campus

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Declining enrollment has officials at Erie Community College thinking of new ways to bring in revenue. The school’s president says it’s time for a shift in the business model, which could call for new development on one of the campuses.

With unemployment and the high school population both down, ECC President Dr. Dan Hocoy indicated there’s no reason to expect the community college’s enrollment to rebound any time soon. It’s already down about 12 percent since 2015, according to data shared by school officials.

So, Hocoy is trying to think ahead, and he’s taking the first steps right now.

“We’re engaging in a master plan for all three campuses,” Hocoy said. 

It’s an idea for the North Campus, in Amherst, that has peoples’ attention. About half of that campus is stacked with buildings. The other half is made up of open fields. Working with a consulting firm, ECC is considering changing that.

“We’re lucky enough in Amherst to have prime real estate,” Hocoy said. “It’s right there, maybe a block away from the village (of Williamsville).”

School officials are now considering the development of those open fields, which face Main Street. But it wouldn’t be developed with more education buildings. Instaed, mixed use properties would be built. The idea has the attention of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

“The chamber commends SUNY Erie President Dan Hocoy and the board for their vision and commitment to updating the college’s master plan,” said the chamber’s president and CEO A.J. Baynes. “Exploring potential public/private partnerships will not only create a new revenue stream for the college, it will help the college prepare its students for the jobs of the future.”

“If we use that space to provide rental property for businiess or apartments or a hotel, that would generate revenue for us,” Hocoy agreed.

Hocoy said the consulting firm they are working with should complete its report on the usage ECC’s three campuses in about 12 or 18 months.

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