Nearly two decades after Gavilan College purchased property for a new San Benito County campus, officials held a groundbreaking ceremony June 16 at the Fairview Road site.
Plans for the new local community college campus site, which is located at the intersection of Highway 25, include new classrooms, open space and natural landscaping, as well as future commercial development and other uses.
The project is funded by the Measure X facilities bond, which was approved by the voters in November 2018. Of the $248 million acquired by Gavilan College through the bond, at least $60.5 million is dedicated to pay for the construction of the San Benito Campus, according to the Gilroy-based community college.
Gavilan College President Dr. Pedro Avila said at the June 16 groundbreaking ceremony that about 2,000 students currently enrolled at Gavilan are San Benito County residents. Avila noted that the new campus will improve proximity and access, which are vital to the successful delivery of education services.
“Knowing the growth that is happening at the high school, knowing the growth that is happening in this county, we know this campus is going to flourish and grow,” Avila said.
The new campus will be built in phases, with contractor Blach Construction leading the project. The first phase will consist of a 35,000-square-foot multipurpose building with eight classrooms equipped with the latest technology to allow distance and remote learning, according to Gavilan College officials. The building will include lab space, support services, limited food service and collaboration spaces, according to Gavilan College.
Attending the June 16 groundbreaking ceremony were local elected officials—including Gavilan’s board of trustees—Measure X oversight committee members, San Benito County Chamber of Commerce officials and students.
Judy Rodriguez, director of Gavilan College’s current Hollister site at the Briggs building in the city’s downtown, said the groundbreaking and beginning of construction marks “history in the making.” The college opened its existing Hollister site in 1997, at 365 Fourth St.
Despite lengthy delays in the construction of a new campus in San Benito County over the years, the college administration’s commitment hasn’t wavered, Rodriguez noted.
“This is your community college,” Rodriguez said. “We are here to serve all our students with equity and inclusion. We want to build community relationships.”
Gavilan College Area 5 Trustee Jeanie Wallace noted that it took significant collaboration among multiple entities—including the county, City of Hollister, San Benito Council of Governments and the region’s state representatives—to bring the new campus project to fruition.
“This site will, in perpetuity, belong to the people of this community and be available for them to enjoy,” Wallace said. “It warms my heart to know this will always be there for the community.”
Gavilan College purchased the Fairview Road site for its new local campus in 2006. Voters in San Benito and Santa Clara counties approved the 2018 Measure X bond—which includes funds for other Gavilan facilities and upgrades—by a total margin of 57%.