Three-in-One Groundbreaking at NCCU

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 11 a.m., North Carolina Central University will ceremonially break ground on three major construction projects: a new nursing building, a residence hall and a parking deck. The combined cost of the projects will be about $70 million. The ceremony will take place on the front lawn of the old Holy Cross Church, at 1400 S. Alston Ave., where the new nursing facility will be built.

The $25 million, state-of-the-art nursing structure will offer 65,000 square feet of space, including a 250-seat auditorium, a large skills lab and a family room for students with children. Completion is anticipated in July 2011. The facility will better enable NCCU to help address the statewide shortage of nurses and increase diversity in the field. According to the N.C. Center on Public Policy, North Carolina will face a shortage of 9,000 nurses in the next five years, and 18,000 by 2020. Last year, 509 students were enrolled in NCCU’s nursing program, a four percent increase from 2007-08.

To make room for the nursing building, preparations are in place to move the old Holy Cross church to the historic corridor at 1912 Fayetteville St., beside NCCU’s Shepard House. No changes are planned to the exterior or interior of the church but it will be repurposed as meeting space for NCCU and the community.

Dedicated in 1953, the small, picturesque stone structure was home to one of the oldest African-American Catholic congregations in the state. The building and the 3.6 acres on which it stands were sold to the state for the development of the campus when parishioners moved to a new and larger Holy Cross Sanctuary at 2438 South Alston Ave., in 2006.

Chidley North Residence Hall, the planned 125,000 square foot, four-story residence hall will be built further north on Alston at the corner of Lawson Street. The $30 million building will house 520 students in suite-style accommodations. It will also contain staff apartments, a multi-purpose classroom, a computer lab and offices. The scheduled completion date is May 2011. Campus officials say it cannot come on stream fast enough; last fall, NCCU opened its doors to the largest freshman class in its history, 1,347 students, and the university is committed to housing its freshmen and sophomores on campus.

Finally, construction has begun on a mixed-use structure to house retail, office space, and a parking deck, with completion scheduled for August 2010. The Latham Parking Deck will cost $15 million and provide parking for 750. At ground level, the deck will contain a coffee shop, bookstore and a police substation.