Walk2Campus Partnering With Longwood At 315 West Third St.

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, March 14, 2013

FARMVILLE – The Walk2Campus 315 West Third Street project is moving toward its scheduled July completion and Longwood University is ready to move in with it.

The Longwood Real Estate Foundation is buying the ground floor, with Walk2Campus student housing on the upper three floors, and will house its own office there in addition to leasing space to LU for the Longwood Center for Communication, Literacy and Learning and the Longwood Small Business Development Center (LCCLL).

The ground floor was originally intended as retail space but Walk2Campus Holdings founder and president, Matt King, and LU's Vice President for Administration and Finance, Ken Copeland, also the real estate foundation's executive director, believe the current plan is a perfect fit for the property which was once home to Newman Tire Company.

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“The timing was very fortunate,” King told The Herald. “We had designed a mixed-use building and were just beginning the process of planning the ground floor for retail use. It turned out the LU Real Estate Foundation had a need for roughly the same square footage on a similar timeline-so it just worked out nicely.

“It took a few extra months to redesign the plans,” King explained, “but at the end we think it's a great use for the space and we're happy to have been in a position to make it work.”

Longwood is smiling, too.

Copeland said, “We just thought this was a hand-in-glove fit, a good fit for a whole lot of constituencies.”

The ground floor of the 62,000-square foot building will become home to the LCCLL, which has been upstairs in the former Bank of America building at the corner of West Third and Main Street.

The LCCLL is an auditory clinic and performs language and hearing screenings and evaluations for school children all over Southside. The mission statement at its website declares its intention to be a caring community resource for children and families in southcentral Virginia, providing the highest level of service in professional speech-language, educational, and early intervention programs and to fully prepare Longwood students for their future careers as speech-language pathologists or educators, by providing focused field experiences.

“I think they serve eight or 10 counties out of that office and they've been renting that space for some time and what started us down this path was trying to find an alternative home for that clinic,” Copeland said of the process that will see the real estate foundation purchase the ground floor of the Walk2Campus building. “It had pretty well outgrown the space that it was in.”

Copeland said discussions with King began in January of 2012 “to talk about the possibility of leasing that ground floor space after it had come out in the paper that he was going to buy the Newman Tire building and build this structure there. So that's kind of what started it.”

Longwood's master plan includes building a new admissions office and the deal with Walk2Campus will allow the university to do so. During construction of a new building the admissions office will relocate to the converted residence on South Main that has been housing the small business development center and the real estate foundation.

“Those two offices will co-locate with the LCCLL in the West Third Street space so that will free up the space on the south end of campus, ultimately, for our new admission's office to be built,” Copeland said of the positive domino effect.

“We had to have space in order to-you've got to build something before you can move somebody out,” Copeland pointed out.

The new ground floor location for the LCCLL, meanwhile, will be much more accessible to those who use it.

“Some of the people, the children and the families of the folks that they serve, they're not ambulatory, so you've got to get them on an elevator or they have to navigate stairs…and the parking has never been great at that old Bank of America facility,” Copeland continued, “so we think it's a pretty good alternative and we're excited about that possibility and of course Matt will have all of the three floors upstairs are going to be student housing which will add to his bed space at Walk2Campus, but we thought it was a good idea. When we saw it advertised for the possibility of retail, did we really need more retail (space) in Farmville? I, personally, would rather see the retail spaces that are empty full before any new comes on line, so we just thought this was a hand-in-glove fit, a good fit for a whole lot of constituencies.”

Longwood is looking forward to students moving into the three residential floors in August for the 2013-14 academic year.

That timeline should be no difficulty, according to King, who heaps praise on those actually constructing the new building.

“We're excited about it. It remains on schedule for a July completion,” he pointed out…

“…Also, we can't say enough great things about English Construction and the subcontractors working on the site. A lot of folks are working extremely hard and have battled some challenging weather to keep the building on schedule for a July completion,” King enthused. “It's exciting to watch a building rise up, but it's important to realize that dreaming it up is the easy part-the folks who are working daily on the building deserve the real credit.”

Walk2Campus is proud, King said, to be in its ninth year operating a local business in Farmville.

“This building will be our biggest individual investment in Farmville so far, but to us it represents more than just bricks and mortar. A founding principal of Walk2Campus is that we have four customers: the students, their parents, the local town, and the local university. So our investments will work in the long run for our investors and lenders if we are serving all four customers,” King said, “in a deliberate and accountable fashion. One of the reasons we love this project is that it speaks to this founding principal.”