By Matthew Monks
The capital funds would match $21.7 million earmarked in the latest state budget for renovations that will add more classrooms, offices, computer labs and lounges to the overcrowded two-year college at 31-10 Thomson Ave.”We have been desperate for space. Right now we are 20 percent over capacity and we keep growing,” said President Dr. Gail O. Mellow. “I don't have any student lounges right now because we turned them into classrooms. It's been very, very difficult.”LaGuardia will not get the state money unless the city approves the matching funds in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed $49.7 billion budget for fiscal 2006 that includes $415 million for renovation projects at City University of New York schools, Mellow said.Should the City Council approve the budget this summer, LaGuardia will immediately launch a $40 million overhaul of two floors of the Center 3 building at the corner of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street.The school, which occupies three buildings in a five-block radius, uses 4 1/2 floors of the nine-story, CUNY-owned Center 3 building. Each 80,000-square-foot floor will cost $20 million to make over and the plans call for dozens of classrooms, a center for corporate education and a small business development center, Mellow said. All the business classes – which are now spread across the western Queens campus – will be consolidated on one floor.”There will actually be a lounge for students. There will be faculty offices,” Mellow said. “It will totally transform what we're able to do.”The Center 3 renovation fits into the school's long-term expansion plan, Mellow said. Down the road is an overhaul of the heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems of the Main Building at 31-10 Thomson Ave.LaGuardia, which has 13,500 degree-seeking and 30,000 non-credit students, has been growing by about 1,000 students each year, Mellow said. The college mainly serves immigrants – it boasts students from more than 159 countries – and offers degrees in allied health, business services and liberal arts.Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.