HPU announces plans for health sciences facility
High Point University made a major announcement on Thursday that will have an impact on the entire city.
In order to accommodate new proposed programs in physical therapy, physician assistant studies and pharmacy, High Point University will build a new 170,000-square-foot facility at the corner of E. Farriss Avenue and Panther Drive on land that HPU recently acquired contiguous to campus.
The complex will house the existing School of Health Sciences and the proposed School of Pharmacy. It is estimated to cost $60 million. Construction is scheduled to start in 2015. At maturity, more than 90 faculty will lead 700 students in programs housed in the four-story building.
“We want to create a collaborative effort between those two schools and among the disciplines,” said HPU President Nido Qubein.
So, what happens to the mall?
The Health Sciences and Pharmacy complex originally was considered for Oak Hollow Mall, purchased by HPU in February 2011. The School of Health Sciences was planned to go in the space that houses the Dillard’s Clearance Center and the School of Pharmacy where Belk is located.
“When I said we were going to do it at the mall, it was for real,” Qubein said, showing a photo of what could’ve been at the mall site. “It didn’t work. We were unable to acquire certain parcels inside the mall, and you can’t build these schools without them. These schools must open up. We don’t have the luxury of saying ‘Oh, lets wait and see what happens in two or three years.’”
The university has no plans for Oak Hollow Mall beyond current retail operations.
Qubein gave two reasons why the university bought the mall.
“One, it was a land acquisition,” he said. “When you are a growing university and you have limitations of space, then the mall was very attractive with approximately 50 acres of land and 2,650 parking spaces, which we use continually. The price made sense, therefore, our board of trustees decided to purchase the mall.
“The second reason we bought the mall is that city leaders were concerned that a deserted mall may be an eyesore or something like that, so they said, ‘At least we know the university will do something with it.’ As long as there’s viability for keeping it open for retail, we’ll do that,” he said.
Qubein said the Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab that is located at the mall in the old Circuit City building could be moved to the new facility.
“We hope we can move it here. It depends on construction costs,” he said.
HPU spent $3.5 million on upfitting on the building.
The new facility will utilize the final section of undeveloped, contiguous land within the University Area Plan adopted by the city of High Point in 2009.
“By moving these programs on campus...we are using our last major parcel of land,” he said. “We don’t have any interest in purchasing more land. We’re comfortable with the size we are. We never wanted to be a 10,000-student school or 20,000-student school. We think with these graduate programs, at maturation, we’ll be a 5,000-student school, and we like that,” Qubein said.
Without land available for residential facility additions, Qubein said it may be necessary for the university to limit enrollment in order to avoid future housing shortages.
Loren Hill, High Point Economic Development Corp. president, said the corporation has been using the schools and the new facility as a selling point to bring businesses to High Point.
“We can’t wait until it’s up and operational. How good that will be for us,” he said.
“The expansion of these highly relevant programs is a testament to our talented faculty, generous philanthropic investors, and an ever-growing base of supportive students, alumni and parents,” Qubein said. “These programs, revolving around an increased need for health care providers, will place HPU graduates in critical, professional roles throughout North Carolina and across the world.”
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