Trade schools continue to grow, seek more space

Trade schools continue to grow, seek more space

Aimee Curl

A struggling economy may mean a slow commercial real estate market, but it also means workers are looking for more training in order to find new jobs. This trend has prompted a wave of leases and expansions for area vocational schools.

Concorde Career Colleges Inc., for example, inked a deal last week for 30,350 square feet and 15 years at Lloyd Plaza, 1425 N.E. Irving.

The school, which offers training for potential medical assistants, dental assistants, and insurance coding and billing specialists, will nearly double its size in the move.

Concorde College will take up space in all three Lloyd Plaza buildings. The deal includes an option to renew and expand, said Mark Friel of Norris Beggs & Simpson, who represented the landlord, 1201 Lloyd LLC, in the deal.

Because of the length of the lease and the tenant being a good fit, Friel said the deal also included a generous landlord allotment for improvements to the space. Concorde College is planning an August move-in.

The University of Phoenix, which has locations in Hillsboro, Tigard and Clackamas, is planning to open a new location in Vancouver, Wash. The school recently signed on for 10,000 square feet in the West Coast Bank Building.

Western Culinary Institute – which now has 65,000 square feet at its new home in the Galleria – plans to expand into 15,000 square feet of new space at the historic downtown Portland building.

And last month, Apollo College of Portland signed a deal to expand its home at Lloyd Center from about 13,000 to 18,489 square feet. The lease expansion is for 10 years.

It’s all hinged on the economy. When it’s slow, tech schools do well, said Rich Sabel, first vice president at CB Richard Ellis, who represented Apollo College in the deal.

He said the option for the college to expand was built into the original lease, signed about a year ago.

They decided to exercise an option and take a pocket they didn’t take at first, he said.

Mickey Sieracki, executive director of the Apollo Portland Campus, said the additional space was one of the attributes that attracted Apollo to the Lloyd Center in the first place.

It was a very important piece when we took the space, she said, but we didn’t anticipate we’d need the space as quickly as we would.

Sieracki said the growth in vocational school enrollment is a national trend.

As the traditional jobs are disappearing, people are looking at which sectors have high potential, she said. One of the high growth areas is in the health field. Schools that offer this have seen an enrollment boost.

Last year alone, Sieracki said Apollo College increased its enrollment by 30 percent. The vocational school offers training for jobs such as medical assistant and pharmacy technician.

The additional space will allow the school to expand its existing programs. Sieracki said Apollo College is conducting market studies to identify the needs in Portland and across the state.

Sieracki said Apollo College is still showing an increase in enrollment this year, but it’s not as aggressive as last year.

She said the school’s Irvine, Calif., corporate headquarters is working on a strategic plan that could include taking more space at Lloyd Center or adding a second campus in Portland.

Or we could remain as we are, she said. We want to make sure our students can find jobs. You have to be careful. There is a balance.

Sabel said continued expansion by vocational schools in the area isn’t necessarily a sign of more tough economic times ahead.

It’s like anything else. A lot of times schools are on the tail end of a trend, but I don’t think things will turn around that quickly, he said. I think a lot of these schools were already doing well, but enrollment really surged when the economy went down.

Copyright 2004 Dolan Media Newswires

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