BCC to open new campus at Taunton mall

Bristol Community College signed a 10-year lease with Taunton’s Silver City Galleria on Friday. (WJAR)

Bristol Community College announced a new campus on Friday.

The location might surprise you, as BBC signed a 10-year lease with Taunton's Silver City Galleria.

"This is a new beginning for BCC," said State Senator Marc Pacheco.

The former Old Navy store will now become a 26,000 square foot learning facility, complete with 12 classrooms, a library, and a variety of labs.

"Well, we're kind of sealed off from the mall for our classes and they'll be in isolation booths, if you will, and they'll be able to do their studying, but I think it's a wonderful pioneering partnership," said BCC President Jack Sbrega.

Among the additions is a so-called casino lab for the school's new associate's degree in hospitality management. It's especially notable, as both city and tribal leaders are seeking to finalize a $500 million casino plan that's slated to be built across the street.

The new school is also important for the mall itself, which has seen significant vacancy in recent years. The Galleria has struggling to compete with places like Providence Place, Emerald Square Mall, and the Wrentham Premium Outlets. Mall officials said their current vacancy is around 20 percent.

"Let's face it, the garden-style malls of the 90s, when this was built, just aren't really making it any more. They aren't in existence," said Taunton Mayor Tom Hoye. "So, these facilities have to reinvent themselves."

But with the recent additions of a new bowling alley, movie theatre, and the incoming casino, everyone involved believes the mall's future is bright.

"We're turning a corner," said the mall's managing partner Barney McAuley. "A lot of it has to do with people coming back to see movies, and then they see the new stores, and then they see the new renovations, so it kind of goes forward."

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