FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): Friday afternoon, Mayor Tom Henry proposed investing $3 million in Legacy funds in the University of Saint Francis downtown campus.
The Higher Education Opportunity Fund was created as part of Legacy Fort Wayne and is intended to provide higher-learning nonprofit institutions up to a $3 million, 3-to-1 match for capital investments. The investments must be made in downtown Fort Wayne or surrounding core neighborhoods.
The entire project will cost approximately $12.3 million
The university plans to renovate 120,000 square feet of space. To help expand the campus, renovations will also take place at two downtown buildings, the former Chamber building and at the former Scottish Rite.
“The University of Saint Francis has already made a significant commitment to the revitalization of downtown Fort Wayne with the purchase of the former Chamber of Commerce Building and the former Scottish Rite,” said Mayor Henry. “The university’s plans to renovate these buildings and fill them with 250 to 300 students will advance educational attainment and the continuing positive momentum in our vibrant and exciting downtown. We’re investing in our future with a strong commitment to education and quality of life.”
The university plans to renovate a significant portion of the former Chamber building into a home for the Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership.
The former Scottish Rite building will house the USF Music Technology and Media Entrepreneurship Training in the Arts (META) programs. It will offer workspace for students, recording studios, video production facilities, rehearsal space, facilities and offices. The building also houses a 2,000 seat auditorium, which is open for public rental, drawing even more people downtown.
The university estimates that 250 to 300 students will be enrolled in majors based at the downtown campus, with capacity to grow to 500. It’s expected that the work will create 86 construction jobs, eight permanent jobs and bring 23 existing jobs downtown.
The proposal to provide Legacy funding to the University of Saint Francis downtown campus will be introduced to City Council on January 14. Discussion of the proposal is planned for January 21 with possible final passage on January 28.
Pending progress in the fundraising plan, officials hope to start construction in 2014.