TU announces plans to build new athletic facility on recently acquired land

by Erin Brock

A Rambler Web Exclusive

Transylvania University plans to build a new athletic complex on land that has been acquired over the past few months, The Rambler confirmed early this evening. However, because it is in the initial planning stages and the purchase of additional property is still being negotiated, it is too early to know the full scope of the project.

“This is still very much in the early stages of planning. We have yet to engage an architect, and we’re still in the process of doing final inspections of the property,” President R. Owen Williams said.

The planned announcement follows two recent developments with the athletics program: the addition of an equestrian program and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. Williams revealed that Transy has bought one property located on the corner of West Fourth Street and Jefferson, and is in the process of negotiating five other properties on West Fourth and Henry streets.

These acquisitions were “negotiated over a prolonged period of time and represent longstanding ambitions of the college,” according to Williams.

A 10-acre portion of land made up of 523, 551 and 555 West Fourth Street will be the site of the new athletic complex. This purchase will be finalized at the end of December when Transy closes on the deal.

“Our intention is to build athletic fields; we hope to get two athletic fields into that space…(and) the fields will be used for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey—(for) men and women. And if we can put a track in there, we’re going to do it. And it’s just a question of whether we have the space,” Williams said, “Our hope is that we will be able to get a full track around the field that would leave room for bleachers on either side of the field.”

The 1.5-acre lot at the corner of Jefferson and West Fourth streets cost Transy $500,000 dollars. A warehouse on that property may be kept and used in a variety of ways, with residential facilities being among those possibilities considered.

“While our long-term plans may well include further acquisitions, at this time we have no intention to acquire more land until we have completed the feasibility study for what we’ve already acquired,” Williams said.

Williams stated that construction would be expected to begin during the calendar year of 2012, but that precise dates would be set at a later time.

Campus planners for the expansion have been interviewed, and a decision between the three finalists should be made in the next month. Also being considered is the raising of funds to finance this and other projects. Williams stated that a “significant” fund-raising campaign “should begin sometime in the next calendar year.”

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The announcement comes after months of hints and whispers of the university dabbling in the real estate market. In January of 2011, The Rambler ran a story about a significant amount of land acquired by the school. Vice President for Finance and Business Marc Matthews said at the time that creating new athletic facilities was a possibility.

And in his October 2010 State of the University address, Williams said that it was his “dream” to “buy a property that we’re looking at buying right now, [and then] we could move all of our athletic fields to this new space and greatly improve what’s there.” At the time, however, Williams dismissed it as a “pipe dream” and “having nothing to do with today’s reality.”

The Florence Crittenton Home, a facility for young pregnant women and mothers with small children, is located between the 1.5-acre lot already purchased on West Fourth Street and the 10-acre plot of land also on West Fourth Street. Despite previous negotiations, Transy has not been successful at purchasing that piece of property.

“If we were to do a transaction with the Florence Crittenton Home, it represents no alteration to their future plans, only a possible relocation of their operation to a more modern facility,” Williams said.

While the announced expansion directly affects Transy’s athletics program, academic expansion is also a priority for the college. “Our intention is to do both (spend on academic and athletic facilities).”

“I’m excited,” said Norwood “Buddy” Cowgill, a member of the Board of Trustees. “I don’t get real excited until it’s all put together, and the pieces are coming together, and we don’t have all the pieces yet. But sure, you’d have to be excited about it. It’s going to open up a lot of potential for the school to grow.”

Related Stories: Redefining the Bubble: Public Records Reveal Additional Properties, SGA Sponsors Williams’ First State of the University Address


3 Responses to TU announces plans to build new athletic facility on recently acquired land

  1. Pingback: Transylvania announces plans to build athletic facilities on recently acquired land | Our Sports

  2. Pingback: Transy to Develop Large Amount of Property Along Jefferson and Fourth Streets | SP2

  3. Pingback: Transy to Develop Large Amount of Property Along Jefferson and Fourth Streets | Smiley Pete Publishing

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