Two years after construction projects were halted by a bogus donation pledge, St. Mary's College in Moraga is building again.

Officials break ground Friday on a $23.4 million academic hall that will house the college's School of Education. The project is the first since the campus learned in 2004 that $120 million in promised donations to pay for capital improvements would not be forthcoming.

The hall — to be called the Frank J. and Olivia C. Filippi Academic Hall — was one of the projects put on hold two years ago, said spokeswoman Debra Holtz.

"It's a sign for us and our supporters that we are recovering and moving on," Holtz said. "It's a big step for us."

Filippi Hall is funded through gifts from more than 40 individuals and foundations, including the Filippi estate and several charitable foundations. After the bogus pledge, the campus tightened procedures to ensure future projects would have secure financial footing.

Construction will begin Monday on the new building, with completion expected by September 2007. The two-story, 37,000-square-foot hall will house the Kalmanovitz School of Education, classrooms, faculty and administrative offices and support services.

One man, John Banker, faces criminal charges for his alleged role in a real estate scam at the root of the fake donation. Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Steven Bolen said Banker is believed to have fled to Mexico.

Contact Michelle Maitre at mmaitre@angnewspapers.com.