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RCCC building at Research Campus delayed

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó Construction of the new community college building at the N.C. Research Campus apparently has been delayed again, but developers still hope the college can offer classes there next fall.
Groundbreaking for the 62,000-square-foot Rowan-Cabarrus Community College facility was supposed to coincide with the May 1 inauguration of Dr. Carol Spalding, the college president, at the Research Campus.
But the groundbreaking has been delayed because developer Castle & Cooke North Carolina has not secured a construction loan.
“We are committed to moving as quickly as possible to make sure we can get the community college in and offering classes in fall 2010,” Lynne Scott Safrit, president of Castle & Cooke, said in an e-mail.
Castle & Cooke, which will construct the $26 million building and then lease it to the college, signed a lease agreement with RCCC on March 4 but is still working to finance the project.
The situation is “just a function of the economy and how banks are working now,” Safrit said.
Steven Mersch, a vice president for the developer who was negotiating loan terms for the RCCC project, left the company last week. Mersch had signed the lease agreement on behalf of Castle & Cooke.
Safrit said his departure is not an issue.
Ray Paradowski, chairman of the RCCC board of trustees, and president Spalding also signed the lease agreement.
After signing the lease agreement, developers were to complete a loan application and submit it to the lender, college spokesman Jeff Lowrance said at the time.
The lender would have 15 business days after receiving the application to lock in an interest rate, Lowrance said.
In her e-mail on Friday, Safrit would not say who the potential lender is, whether Castle & Cooke submitted a loan application and if the 15 days have expired.
“I am sorry but we just don’t discuss our financing or business issues as Castle & Cooke is a private company and that is considered internal information,” she said.
The college has not changed its plans to offer classes in the new facility in fall 2010, Lowrance said.
“We understand these are complex economic times and that national and global economic pressures are impacting the process of securing a lender for this project,” he said in an e-mail. “We have every confidence the process will be completed in the coming days and construction will start soon.”
The building is expected to take about 15 months to construct. The state will provide about $3 million per year to RCCC for lease payments and operating costs. The college will lease the facility from Castle & Cooke for 20 years.
RCCC will move its biotechnology program to the new building. The college is expected to train thousands of people to work at the biotechnology hub in downtown Kannapolis.

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