Vacant office parks repurposed as school, college buildings

Oct 10, 2018 by

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) – On the new satellite campus of Sacred Heart University, the helicopter landing pad remains as one of the few reminders that the wooded, 69-acre property served until recently as the global headquarters for General Electric.

Where Jack Welch sat at the pinnacle of corporate America, professors now lead classes inside the sleek, 1970s buildings on the campus purchased by the university following GE’s departure for Boston in 2016.

Across the country, office parks that have lost their luster with employers are being repurposed as school buildings. Colleges and school districts willing to think beyond traditional school settings are retrofitting office space to help them deal with growing enrollments and a scarcity of land in urban and suburban areas.

Sacred Heart computer science professor Bob McLoud said he likes the natural light the floor-to-ceiling windows bring into the classrooms. And the leftover cubicles outside his office leave plenty of room for his graduate students. But he is still adjusting to the former GE site.

“It’s a little corporate,” he said.

A 28-bedroom guesthouse with a ballroom has been kept by the university to support a new hospitality program. Renovations are still underway at the two main buildings, but the university already has moved the education, computer science and engineering departments to what it is calling its West Campus, a short shuttle ride from the main campus.

Michael Kinney, a university administrator, said the $31.5 million paid for the property was a bargain when compared with the cost of new construction.

A similar idea has been under consideration a few miles down the Connecticut shoreline in Stamford, where the school district was looking at an unoccupied building that once housed Xerox as the potential site of an elementary school.

Some other examples:

continue: Vacant office parks repurposed as school, college buildings | WFOX-TV

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