Published : Wednesday, June 26, 2019 | 4:02 PM
Pasadena is pocked with private schools currently regrouping, recalibrating and spit-shining their institutions for returning students after summer. New arrival Education First is engaged in a like process, only larger, and sort of starting from scratch, at least in Pasadena.
Shawna Marino, EF Academy vice president, said the academy expects to break ground at the end of the summer or early fall with an eye on its long-term plan to open shop in September 2020.
“We started the public planning and development process with the City of Pasadena in April 2018,” she said. “We’ve been working very closely with the City, the Planning Department and our community members to design and develop what we hope is the best possible reuse of the former William Carey International University campus.”
The private international boarding school closed on the property formerly known as the William Carey International University, at 1539 E Howard Street, in March, applied for the permits to renovate, and is on its way to building the campus and recruiting 1,000 students.
The school started a conditional use permit process and finished that in February to get permission to preserve and enhance the campus with a number of renovation plans for existing buildings as well as rebuilding the student dormitory.
“The focus of the design commission process has been the building of the new student dormitory, which is a 130,000-square foot, two- and three-story community of student housing, rooms and student service space,” Marino said.
The new dorm replaces Aylward Dormitory, which was demolished. After assessing the prospects of renovation, it was deemed more cost-effective to build a new dorm from scratch.
On June 11 the academy received the go-ahead from the Pasadena Design Commission for the design and replacement of the dormitory.
“It’s being designed by Gensler and we received final design approval,” Marino said.”We’re working with the planning and building departments now on all the appropriate approvals required to get through the construction process.”
The academy demolished the old dorm building and obtained a grading permit in April and has been working through “earthwork” on site, prepping for the start of construction this summer.
“We’ve really appreciated and valued the feedback we’ve received from the Pasadena Design Commission and City staff throughout this whole process,” Marino said. “They’ve made this a better project and a better design and we are absolutely thrilled with the final product.”
Marino said the dorm will house 690 students total.
“Although it is considered one project, it is laid out in four community buildings with student residential rooms, which creates a really nice home-away-from-home feel for our students,” she said.
Marino said the school is actively recruiting students and expects a strong response, especially from its other locations in Thornwood, N.Y., and Oxford and Tobay, England.
The EF Academy was founded by Bertil Hult in Sweden around 1965. He emigrated to Santa Barbara and opened a school there in 1983.
But the process revolves around students. And many of EF’s current students have expressed interest in attending school in California.
“EF Academy has been eyeing a West Coast campus for a few years,” she said. “We’ve, we’ve been searching for the right location for a number of years. So there’s been a bit of a buzz within the international education community now for probably the last five years.
“I think there are students already enrolled in our other campuses who are very excited about the prospect of attending high school in Pasadena,” she said. “And the EF Academy admissions process is opening for Fall 2020 at the end of this summer. So I know that the academy team is going to be working on both American students and international student recruitment.
Marino said the group looks forward to working hand in hand with the City.
“Well, we’ve been working through it since April of last year of 2018. So it will be almost two and a half years when we open. We’re very excited about being in Pasadena. We love the City of Pasadena and we are confident that it’s going to be an excellent partnership for many, many years to come between EF and the City.”