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South Plains College's new campus brings energy to downtown Lubbock revitalization efforts

 South Plains College's new downtown campus is located at 1625 13th Street.
Jane Davenport
Texas Tech Public Media
South Plains College's new downtown campus is located at 1625 13th Street.

In the midst of downtown Lubbock’s redevelopment is a new South Plains College campus. The campus opened this fall semester after two years of renovations.

The campus used to be Lubbock’s City Hall, and before that, it was a Sears department store. But with the renovations, it is unrecognizable from the original layout. The campus entrance has a spacious study area with modern furniture and plenty of places for students to study.

There are 1,600 students enrolled, and Dean Kara Martinez said there is room for more. She estimates that there will be over 2,000 students next fall.

The fine arts classes that are taught at this location used to take place at South Plains College’s Reese campus, which is on the edge of town. The new Lubbock campus makes courses more accessible to city residents and gives the college more space to encourage student success.

Since the new location is only seven blocks away from Texas Tech University, administrators hope to see an increase in enrollment for core curriculum classes such as math and English.

“The 42 hours that are mandated by the State of Texas, they can get here in this building right down the street,” Martinez said. “So we hope we see a lot more students, we have a lot who are dual enrolled already. And so we just want them to know we're here and we've got room for you. So come on down.”

The influx of new students is predicted to economically benefit downtown Lubbock. CEO and President of the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance John Osborne said there is a lot of potential for this campus to play a key part in revitalizing the area.

“Well, the fact that South Plains College is bringing faculty and administrators and students to this campus and downtown brings about a lot of opportunities for economic activity,” Osborne said. “Many of them are going to want to eat or go get some coffee, or they want to go to the bookstore or buy this or that. And having shops within walking distance of the college enables for that economic activity to be generated.”

Osborne said the campus will be mutually beneficial since students at the new location will be able to enjoy a variety of new restaurants, shopping centers and living spaces that are currently in development.