By Rebecca LaFlure

Killeen Daily Herald

Students at Texas A&M University-Central Texas will start class on a new campus in January 2012, officials say.

Lawrence Good, president of Good Fulton & Farrell, the architectural firm in charge of the project, gave community leaders a glimpse of what the future campus would look like Friday at a Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Officials expect to break ground on the future campus, located at the intersection of state highways 195 and 201, in fall 2010.

"It's exciting," said State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen), who helped pass a bill that will fund the initial campus construction. "In the long term, it completely changes the community's image to both a college town and a military community."

Tarleton State University-Central Texas transitioned into A&M-Central Texas in May. The Texas A&M University System obtained 672 acres from Fort Hood to house the new campus during a May ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

Good presented a 20-year plan for the campus that would accommodate 15,000 students. Good said he envisions a uniquely Texas campus with curving ranch roads and scattered buildings. It will be built in phases depending on when funding becomes available, he said.

Construction of the initial building will cost $25 million and includes admissions, student aid and academic offices; instructional spaces complete with a 100-seat lecture theater; and a student commons, bookstore and café.

The long-term plan includes 19 academic buildings, a student union, wellness center and dining hall. It would eventually house 1,800 beds, with 20 percent of students living on campus, and would provide parking for 6,000 people.

The plan also includes construction of a 30,000-seat football stadium, a baseball stadium, an indoor arena and 22 acres of outdoor recreation.

The university has been dubbed the second-largest economic development to occur in the region only behind the establishment of Fort Hood. It reached nearly 2,300 students this semester.

According to a 2006 economic impact study by the GKCC, enrollment of 2,500 full-time students would bring an additional $37 million to the area and would create an estimated 677 jobs. With an enrollment of 6,500 full-time students, the economic impact would increase to $106 million annually, and about 2,000 jobs would be created.

Good stressed that there would be enough room to expand the university campus to accommodate a growing student body.

"The site is big enough that it leaves a significant amount for development, and possible commercial services," he said. "I think we'll be good for another quarter century. Then we'll go back to Washington."

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