Contegra Construction’s Trailblazer Commons Phase I Opens in Illinois

Phase I of Trailblazer Commons, serving Godfrey, Ill.-based Lewis and Clark Community College, has opened to students.
Trailblazer 3 - Kenn

Godfrey, Ill.—Phase I of Trailblazer Commons, serving Godfrey, Ill.-based Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC), has opened to students. The opening of the $3 million project from Contegra Construction Co. means LCCC can now add “walk-to-campus” housing to the list of amenities it offers students.

The three-story, nearly 25,000-square-foot structure is situated at 820 Elm Street in Godfrey. It features 21 two- and four-bedroom fully furnished apartments, each 100 percent illuminated by energy-efficient LED lighting. Home to 84 student renters, the building is fully occupied.

“LCCC enlisted a consulting firm to perform a study to validate its need for student housing close to campus,” Contegra Construction Co. partner Brad Barnard, who oversaw Phase I construction, tells MHN. “The findings of the study were presented at a town hall-type meeting in the summer of 2012. [Contegra’s] first thought was to help LCCC, a long-time client, fill a need. We also believed that a student housing development would be successful, so we immediately focused on purchasing a desirable property adjacent to campus.”

Community colleges are typically commuter institutions. But LCCC is very different, according to Barnard. “LCCC’s very successful sports teams and academic programs attract students from around the country,” he reports. “It even has international students. Additionally, LCCC’s commuter base is broader geographically than most community colleges. Rather than make a long commute, many students prefer to live adjacent to campus.”

In 2013, after talks with LCCC, Edwardsville, Ill.-based Contegra and Mulberry Partners, a development affiliate, launched the project by purchasing a 4.1-acre site on Elm Street.

The primary challenge Contegra encountered was acquiring the necessary easement to provide ingress and egress through campus. The original road leading to Trailblazer was unsuitable for the traffic volumes its students would generate.

As well, it was essential the building be ready for students in August, to begin the school year. “The construction schedule was very aggressive at only 15 weeks, requiring some trades to work overtime,” Barnard says. “We saved considerable time on the schedule by panelizing the wood-framed structure off-site.”

The opening of Trailblazer Commons Phase I will provide the community college and its students a number of benefits. “Trailblazer Commons makes it possible for students to attend LCCC without owning a vehicle, [which is] an attractive option to many students,” Barnard says.

“The presence of Trailblazer will also make it easier for LCCC to recruit scholarship athletes for its successful sports teams. It also affords the student-resident a true campus life experience, similar to a university. From a marketing perspective, Trailblazer is very positive for LCCC.”

Construction on Phase II of Trailblazer Commons, providing an anticipated 96 beds, is tentatively slated to get underway this coming March.

Founded in 1970, LCCC is a two-year community college educating more than 20,000 credit and non-credit students annually.