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Darton to up size of satellite center

An artist’s rendering of the new Darton College Cordele Campus, which is scheduled to begin construction early next year, is shown. The new 50,000 square foot facility will nearly triple the college’s footprint in the city and help revitalize downtown Cordele.

An artist’s rendering of the new Darton College Cordele Campus, which is scheduled to begin construction early next year, is shown. The new 50,000 square foot facility will nearly triple the college’s footprint in the city and help revitalize downtown Cordele.

CORDELE — For the past nine years, Darton College has conducted classes in the same 17,000-square-foot facility in the Crisp County Education Center. During that period, enrollment has increased from 31 to nearly 300 students.

Therefore, space is at a premium and getting tighter.

That situation should be remedied within the next 18 months when Darton opens a new 50,000-square-foot facility in the heart of downtown Cordele. The property, donated by Louis Perlis, is located at 11th Avenue and Eighth Street.

“Right now, we are just finishing up the environmental study,” Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce President Monica Simmons said. “We expect demolition to begin shortly after approval. We hope to begin Phase I work of the master plan sometime during the first quarter of next year.”

Simmons said the new facility will serve two purposes: locating a top-notch college campus in Cordele and helping to revitalize the downtown area.

Darton’s Caroline Fielding, dean of the Cordele Campus, said she thinks the expansion is long overdue.

“This is an exciting time for us and the city of Cordele,” Fielding said. “We are currently serving more than 300 students a semester here and need to grow. We are having an impact on lives, and this expansion is good for everybody.

“We have a lot of students that have to drive to Americus and Albany on a regular basis, and this will help reduce that number.”

Fielding noted that 50 percent of the Cordele students are in pre-nursing and 20 percent are in allied health. Because of limited space, those students must drive to Albany for their lab work.

“Right now, we cannot offer all the classes we need to here,” she said. “We have no room for our labs. The new facility will change that.”

The city of Cordele and the state of Georgia will pay the costs of constructing the new buildings, and the facility will eventually be turned over to and operated by the Georgia Board of Regents.