NSCC culinary, cosmetology programs to open in Lynn

March 28, 2013
By Chris Stevens/The Daily Item

Danvers’ loss will be downtown Lynn’s gain when North Shore Community College opens its culinary and cosmetology programs at 270 Union St. this September.

“They are currently located at Essex Aggie in old, antiquated spaces,” said college spokeswoman Linda Brantley. “We stumbled upon this place … it’s going to be a real boost for both programs.”

NSCC needed to move the programs largely because the Essex Agricultural High School building is about to be demolished to make way for the new Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School.

facade of 270 union street
270 Union St., future home of the NSCC cosmetology and culinary programs. (Item Photo / Angela Owens)

Moving to Lynn wasn’t necessarily a priority, but Brantley believes it is fortuitous. She said the largest number of students enrolled in the culinary program are from Lynn, followed by Salem.

“We think the sky’s the limit with this program moving to the downtown,” she said. “We were really willing to consider any place. The challenge was that both programs need a lot of specialized space.”

The culinary program needs a large industrial kitchen as well as a small student-run restaurant, the Scholars Den, that will be open to the public two days a week during the school year. The cosmetology program will include a 40-seat salon, teaching and reception area, and student-run, instructor-supervised hair, skin and nail salon three days a week from December to May.

“I recently saw the plans for that,” Brantley said. “It’s going to be amazing.”

The Union Street building not only expands the NSCC footprint in the city, it’s also easily accessible to students since it’s adjacent to the MBTA’s commuter rail line and parking garage. There will also be on-site parking.

The building also allows for additional general classrooms, faculty offices and a student lounge area, and also has a full basement with room for the college to grow. Brantley said they are looking for creative ways to fully use the space, which might include adding an adult culinary night class and some non-credit health care programs.

“We are extremely excited about bringing these two programs to Lynn where our students will benefit by learning on new, state-of-the-art equipment,” said NSCC President Wayne M. Burton in a statement. “This new center will open up new educational and career opportunities for Lynn residents and allow the college to more fully contribute to the revitalization of downtown Lynn.”

Patricia Brown, dean of NSCC’s Business Science Division, said she is confident the new location will attract more students to both programs.

According to Brantley, in the fall of 2012 NSCC enrolled 101 students in its culinary program. The cosmetology program is currently capped at 40 students per year by state regulations. NSCC currently enrolls close to 25 percent of Lynn Classical, Lynn English and Lynn Vocational Technical graduates, Brantley added.

The college is partnering with Higher Education Partners, a private company specializing in utilizing private equity investment funding to assist community colleges in meeting their space and facility needs. The company will lease the property, assume all financial risk for the project, and will outfit the programs with the latest equipment. For this commitment they will earn a service fee based on program revenues. HEP has previously worked with Bristol and Northern Essex Community Colleges on projects, with two other Massachusetts community college projects in the works.

“The college is fortunate to be able to work with HEP on the project because we would not be able to afford the alternative and didn’t want to discontinue the programs,” Burton said. Economic Development & Industrial Corporation also had a hand in bringing the programs to the downtown area.

“EDIC and the city of Lynn are excited to bring staff and students into the central business district,” said EDIC Executive Director James Cowdell. “This is a solid commitment to expand NSCC in Lynn and we look forward to continuing our partnership.”

Chris Stevens can be reached at cstevens@itemlive.com.

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