Building Blocks

Hope College in Holland, MI, bought its football stadium last year from the City of Holland, and the college allows both the city and Holland High School to use the field for free.

Holland High School’s continued use of the Hope College stadium means the two teams will continue playing on the same field, a partnership dating back to 1932.

“Given the economic times and the city’s inability to finance an upgrade — which was mostly converting the grass playing surface to artificial turf — it made sense for the college to acquire the stadium property,” says Hope College spokesman Tom Renner.

Hope College spent $1.1 million last summer to replace the stadium’s natural grass surface with artificial ProTurf, and then spent about $952,000 to buy the stadium outright.

“There might be other communities that have as good a relationship as Hope and Holland, but I can’t imagine that there are any places where the relationship is stronger,” Kurt Dykstra, mayor of Holland, told the TownGown Michigan blog last month.

Misericordia University in Dallas, PA, has bought and adapted three community buildings to address record enrollments, support a new academic program and expand the campus presence.

Most recently, in 2011, the university saved a former funeral home from the wrecking ball.

The university paid $445,000 for what is now called the Machell Avenue Residence Hall, and spent $390,000 to renovate the 5,483-square-foot building into living space for upper-level and graduate students.

“The building was vacant and heading toward bankruptcy court. It wasn’t deteriorated yet, but it was going that way. We were able to take that property and put it back into use, housing students in the downtown area, where they add purchasing power and vibrancy,” says Dr. Michael MacDowell, who retired as president of Misericordia University on June 30.

Dallas Borough Mayor Timothy Carroll said the 2,500-resident municipality’s business district is helped greatly by Misericordia University and its students.

“Having the university take over the larger vacancies in our commercial downtown to renovate for their purposes has been a great thing for us,” Carroll says.

In October, Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, FL, bought the 100,000-square-foot Holy Name Monastery from the Benedictine Sisters of Florida, paying $3.9 million for the three-story structure.

The purchase allows the Sisters to begin a two-year project to construct a new monastery. Now serving just 16 members, Holy Name Monastery is too large to operate and renovate, but the Sisters will remain in their quarters as renters (with a $1 annual lease) until they move into their new facility.

“We are pleased that the land will remain in the ‘family’ and continue to be used for educational ministries that uphold the same Benedictine values that the Sisters espouse,” says Sister Roberta Bailey, O.S.B., the prioress of Holy Name Monastery.

Even though the university is now an independent institution, the core values that guide university life are drawn from the Benedictine tradition.

“Now the Sisters’ work will continue, they will live nearby and they will be able to see on a daily basis how the addition of this parcel enhances our educational mission,” says Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., president of Saint Leo University, who added that the university has no specific plans for the Monastery after the Sisters move out.

At Albright College in Reading, PA, an office building owned by the college is being transformed into a technologically advanced academic facility, one that will provide more opportunity for students to engage with the Reading community.

Rockland Professional Center will outfitted with 30,000 square feet of state-of-the-art classrooms, offices and meeting spaces, with work beginning next summer. The newly christened Center for Business, Civic and Global Leadership is expected to be ready for the start of the fall 2014 semester.

In addition to a Wells Fargo branch already in the building, the facility will house a mix of academic departments and business tenants. It is Albright College’s intent that the resulting economic, civic and international engagement instills in its students a deeper appreciation of the meaning and importance of citizenship.

“We envision a place that is inviting not only to our students, but also to local businesses, nonprofits and other community organizations, thereby facilitating the development of partnerships with the college that benefit our students while serving community needs,” says Albright College President Lex O. McMillan III.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management August 2013 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

Edward Biller is a writer/editor at Dick Jones Communications.