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ACC Breaks Ground on First Highland Mall Renovation

Austin Community College is breaking ground on the first phase of renovations at Highland Mall. The project will transform the vacant J.C. Penney store into a state-of-the-art learning environment.

Rendering of ACC Highland, phase I, by Elizabeth Day (courtesy BGK Architects)

The college and community will celebrate the groundbreaking Wednesday, March 27 (10–11:30 a.m., outside the former J.C. Penney building along Airport Boulevard). The event will bring together Highland neighbors, local businesses, elected leaders, and college representatives.

“This will be a big day for ACC, the Highland area, and all the communities we serve,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “ACC Highland is a project unlike any other in the nation. We are repurposing a mall, transforming it into a unique, innovative learning environment and center for community and business partnerships.”

The first area to be renovated will house the college’s math emporium, an open lab that will allow students to move through developmental math curriculum at an individualized pace. It is expected to be the largest math emporium in the country, with capacity for some 600 students. Other details about phase I of the mall renovation include:

  • Primary uses: math emporium, instructional space, library, student union
  • Size: 200,000 square feet
  • Capacity: 6,200 students
  • Architect/Engineer: Barnes Gromatzky Kosarek Architects
  • Construction manager: Flintco, LLC
  • Opening date: fall 2014

ACC began acquiring property at Highland Mall in 2010 and purchased the final component in 2012. The mall remains in operation.

 “Highland Mall is an Austin landmark, and what ACC is doing will bring new life to this area and deliver valuable services people need,” says Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who will speak at the groundbreaking. “The Highland project is a matter of great interest, great hope, and great pride.”

The groundbreaking kicks off a larger vision for revitalization of the Highland area, which will include mixed-use development helmed by RedLeaf Properties.

In addition to Dr. Rhodes and Mayor Leffingwell, speakers at the event will include U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, ACC Board Chair Jeffrey Richard, University Federal Credit Union President/CEO Tony Budet, and ACC student Miriam Gorbet. The groundbreaking will include the demolition of a (faux) wall created by House of Torment, a Highland Mall business.

To stay informed of the latest developments at ACC Highland, subscribe to updates, and share Highland Mall memories, visit austincc.edu/highland.

posted in: ACC Newsroom, Official ACC Press Releases


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