Tarrant County College Northwest Campus was buzzing with activity Friday morning — and there wasn’t a student in sight.
Instead, construction crews driving excavators and trucks filled with dirt and rock were the source of the flurry of activity. They were clearing rubble from the demolished administrative building — one of four structures that will be razed — to make way for an entirely new campus, 4801 Marine Creek Parkway in Fort Worth.
The complete redevelopment of the Northwest Campus — projected to cost $311 million — is part of a voter-approved $825 million bond aimed at improving aging buildings across the Tarrant County College District. The infusion of improvements are much needed as enrollment has swelled at some campuses in recent years and existing facilities no longer meet students’ needs. This was the district’s first bond in 25 years.
“The mission of Tarrant County College is to provide affordable and open access to quality teaching and learning,” Teresa Ayala, the board of trustees president, told the Fort Worth Report. “The bond program will allow us to continue to support and nurture that mission.”
The Northwest Campus revamp is one of two focal points in the bond. The other is TCC Southeast Campus, 2100 Southeast Parkway in Arlington.
Northwest Campus changes
Northwest Campus improvements timeline
July 2021 to May 2022: Renovating exteriors of the physical education building and the physical plant.
July 2021 to January 2023: Construction of the first of four new buildings.
July 2021 to March 2023: Construction of the second of four new buildings.
April 2023 to August 2023: Demolition of the student center, library and fine arts center.
October 2023 to March 2025: Construction of the third of four new buildings.
October 2023 to May 2025: Construction of the fourth of four new buildings.
May 2025 to January 2026: Renovating exterior of academic classroom building facing Marine Creek Lake.
July 2025 to October 2025: Demolition of the counseling and testing building.
“A lot of our buildings are really old, and, in fact, the Northwest Campus is more than 50 years old and it was having failures of the façade where there were bricks falling off it,” said Susan Alanis, Tarrant County College’s chief operating officer. “It was an old school, so to speak, design, so it was an opportunity to really modernize the way we deliver instruction as well as services to all of our students by taking this opportunity to redevelop campuses.”
Besides the Northwest Campus’s administrative building, the school’s student center building, library, fine arts center, and counseling and testing building will be pulverized to make way for more modern structures. Construction on the first of the new buildings is scheduled to begin this month, with the entire campus redevelopment project expected to be completed sometime in early 2026.
Each of the four new buildings will have a variety of uses, Allanis said.
“One of them will also house the early college high school partnership that we have with Fort Worth ISD,” she said. “Building two is actually going to add a bit of a new front door because one of the challenges of that campus is sometimes it’s hard to get out there and figure out where to go in.”
Southeast Campus improvements
At the Southeast Campus, the student population has outgrown the building. The facility was designed for 8,500 students. During the spring 2019 semester, the Southeast Campus had 11,466 enrolled students. Projections show the student population growing to 13,696 by 2033. The district had to set up portable buildings to meet the growing enrollment.
Since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting daily life, students have been in remote learning. They are expected to return to in-person classes this fall.
TCC plans to spend $125 million to upgrade the Southeast Campus. Two new buildings will be constructed, one on the northside and one on the southside of the campus.
The northern building, expected to be 37,457 square feet, will act as a new gateway to the Arlington campus. The south building will be nearly twice as large, coming in at 60,714 square feet. Construction is scheduled to begin in January and be completed by August 2023.
The current tax rate was the first time since at least 2016 when the board of trustees did not adopt the no-new-revenue rate — the rate that would bring in the same amount of property tax revenue as the prior year.
The rate is 13.017 cents per $100 valuation, the same rate from the last tax year. The top-line rate stayed the same; however, the two smaller rates that form the tax rate have changed.
“We committed from the beginning that we were not going to increase our tax rate,” Alanis said. “We’ve been planning for a while knowing that we were going to need to absorb debt service. This past year we were able to move a penny over to the (debt service) portion of our tax rate without an increased tax rate for our citizens.”
Last year, the board dedicated 12.147 cents to go toward maintenance and operations and .87 cents to be used to support Tarrant County College’s debt. This was the first time since 2014 in which the district had a debt service tax rate.
From 2015 to 2019, the entirety of the tax rate was dedicated to maintenance and operations, according to Tarrant Appraisal District tax rate records.
“The citizens of Tarrant County have always been supportive of TCC, and we do not take that for granted. We have an obligation to be good stewards,” Ayala said.
Most taxpayers have seen higher property appraisals, causing their tax bill to increase. For example, the average Tarrant County home has a net taxable income of $222,898 — an increase of $3,915 from last year’s average of $218,983. That homeowner would pay about $290.15 in TCC taxes this year — a $5.10 increase from last year’s bill of $285.05.