Lee University has announced projected plans for the property between Church and Parker streets purchased several years ago from First Baptist Church of Cleveland.
The upcoming projects are part of the university’s plan to develop its south campus.
“We have pushed a lot of buildings into a very small space on our campus,” said Lee University President Paul Conn. “When the First Baptist Church came up for sale about four years ago, we felt that was an unprecedented opportunity to buy a large piece of property near our boundaries.”
Much consideration was given to the best utilization of the land.
Director of special projects Cole Strong explained the current projected plan includes the construction of two academic buildings, renovations to the old First Baptist Church, extensive landscaping and roadwork on Church Street.
The first leg of the south campus development will be completed with the construction of the Communications Building. The anticipated date of completion is fall 2014.
The next construction project on the books is for the nursing program. Conn said the Tennessee Board of Nursing requires the school to provide space for the program by fall 2016. The program itself is set to be launched next fall.
Director of Nursing Dr. Sara Campbell said she has been encouraged to write up a wish list.
“I will look at the places I’ve come from and what was in the [nursing] buildings, in addition to the number of students we will have,” Campbell said. “We will also look at the trends in nursing education and health care.”
She said there will be a crucial need for lab space and a large simulation area.
Specs for the south campus layout places the building alongside 6th Street between Parker and Church streets. It is too early to determine the size of the building.
Farther south, campus projects include placing a median and several speed bumps down Church Street. The effect will be similar to the median and speed bumps found on Parker Street. Strong explained the change will slow down traffic as student activity in the area increases.
According to Strong, the sanctuary of the old First Baptist Church will become Pangle Hall, a performance area for the music department. Practice and instruction rooms have been moved into the basement of the building. Changes within the sanctuary include expanding the stage and possibly replacing the pews with fixed seats. The steeple will be replaced with a piece similar to those found on other Lee University buildings.
Additional renovations will be completed on the exterior of the entire building.
The old Sunday school classrooms will be renovated into an academic building. Discussion currently favors moving a portion of the business department into the new space. The Lee University Developmental Inclusion Classroom will remain in the portion of the building facing Parker Street.
A new portico will expand on the current lower-level entrance.
Green space will be incorporated into the development by turning the large parking lot into a grassy quadrangle.
This area will be the largest green area on campus. Others include Schimmel’s Park, Alumni Park and the lawn in front of the Science and Math Complex. These spaces are believed to promote the community aspect of the institution.
“We think it is important to have green space around [campus],” Strong said. “It is aesthetically pleasing. When you have too many hard structures, it is unpleasant to the eye. Plus, it gives areas for students to relax and gather.”
Mounds of dirt have already been brought to the parking lot. The idea is to level the slight decline from Church Street to Parker Street. There will be a slight hill from Church Street to the quadrangle before it flattens. Another slight slope will be seen from the quadrangle to Parker Street.
The final piece of development will be a structure placed in the center of the quadrangle. This piece is tentatively being referred to as the Forum. Greek clubs Alpha Gamma Chi and Delta Zeta Tau are heading the project. According to Strong, other clubs have been invited to join.
The structure will be the single largest piece on campus. Others include the gazebo, various fountains, a gateway and a bell tower.