NEW YORK -- For the first time in nearly 60 years, students at St. Francis College in downtown Brooklyn will be starting their new semester on a brand-new campus.
It's a work-in-progress everywhere you look inside the building at 179 Livingston St. Glass is being installed, walls are being painted, and workers are in a race against the clock.
CBS 2's Hannah Kliger got an exclusive look at the new facilities at the institution that's more than 160 years old.
"It was a really bold decision for the college, but now we are seeing it come to fruition," said Miguel Martinez-Saenz, president of St. Francis College.
He said the project has been four years in the making, and the school is selling its old campus on Remsen Street to help finance the new location.
"The space, I believed, was inadequate for 21st century learning," he said. "We had been in that space for 60-plus years."
The campus will boast a 300-seat auditorium, a chapel and multi-faith room, a rooftop terrace, multiple science labs, and a much-expanded state-of-the-art nursing department.
"The college made the decision to really prioritize student learning and the student experience, which means we designed the space for students," Martinez-Saenz explained.
Occupying the fifth, sixth and seventh floors of the Wheeler building, the space sprawls for a total of 255,000 square feet. The campus was designed with hybrid learning in mind, something the president said the school was considering before the pandemic.
"Some people are saying, 'Oh, now we can do hybrid because of COVID.' We were going in that direction before COVID," he said.
Academic developments are happening at the institution, too. Starting this upcoming semester, the college will be offering several new degrees related to a variety of fields, like community health, entrepreneurship, and global studies.
The Franciscan brothers came in 1859 to provide opportunities for those who didn't have them, Martinez-Saenz explained, saying the school is still fully committed to that.
"To do that effectively, you have to have state of the art learning environments," he said.
According to Martinez-Saenz, the school's goal of openness and accessibility can be seen not just in the glass walls and open floor plan, but in the student body as well.
"About 85 percent of our students come from New York city public schools," he said.
Once the campus is open to students, it plans to host an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 21 to showcase the finished space.
Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.
for more features.