Meharry Medical College, Virginia State University Are the Current Focus
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher learning, including public and private, two-year and four-year colleges, medical schools and community colleges, established after the Civil War and before 1964 for the purpose of serving the African-American community. HBCUs, frequently found in blighted communities and often the only potential resource for those communities, typically lack the resources and capacity to engage in economic and community development.
NDC has long had a goal of providing its economic development expertise to HBCUs. In 2005, NDC provided technical assistance to Benedict-Allen College Community Development Corporation (Columbia, SC) and is working today with Meharry Medical College (Nashville, TN) and Virginia State University (Ettrick, VA).Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher learning, including public and private, two-year and four-year colleges, medical schools and community colleges, established after the Civil War and before 1964 for the purpose of serving the African-American community. HBCUs, frequently found in blighted communities and often the only potential resource for those communities, typically lack the resources and capacity to engage in economic and community development.
“NDC is providing these institutions with development assistance and professional training, as well as debt and equity for residential, commercial, public and non-profit facility projects,” says Hank Coleman, the NDC field director, who delivers NDC “TA” to Meharry and Virginia State University (VSU).
In addition, NDC’s East Team is currently assisting Virginia State University (VSU) with a wide range of projects, including the creation of a community development corporation (CDC), predevelopment work for a $70 million convocation center, hotel and alumni center, evaluation of capital expansion plans for future development, exploration of alternative ownership opportunities for campus development projects and evaluation of potential revenue sources for college-owned surplus buildings. Additionally, NDC has been providing assistance with the redevelopment needs of the larger VSU community, specifically the redevelopment of Chesterfield Avenue, one of two major corridors to the University. NDC continues to evaluate public/private projects on behalf of the University when proposals are received from private developers.
“Initially, NDC was working directly with the University, but recently, the relationship has expanded to include the VSU Foundation, which is driving some of these projects,” says Coleman. The Foundation is the not-for-profit arm of VSU, and handles some of the real estate acquisition. “Working through the Foundation will allow the University to expedite projects,” Coleman explains. In February, Coleman will be meeting with the VSU Foundation Board. First on the agenda is conducting a market study for the hotel and alumni center.
“We’ve had big plans for the development of our facilities,” remarks Robert L. Turner, VSU’s vice president for development, “but we needed someone with an understanding of facilities development to give us guidance as we plan for the physical expansion of the University. We found that in NDC.”
NDC’s work for Meharry Medical College includes evaluating and assisting in the planning process of an overlay district for a campus master plan, and assisting the College in applying for grant funds to the Historic Preservation Fund, from which the College will receive up to $1million to began the restoration of Lyttle Hall, Meharry’s only building listed on the National Register. Lyttle Hall has been vacant for more than sixteen years and had become a haven for homeless persons. The historic property will serve as the main hub and “living room” of the College, housing the President of the College and other executive administrative staff.
NDC has assisted both institutions in creating collaborative relationships with their respective local municipalities during their master planning process. “By using a team approach, NDC is excited to help build the support and capacity necessary to make these schools engines of economic change,” notes Coleman.