Rowan agrees to buy school

Rowan agrees to buy school

By GENE VERNACCHIO, Courier-Post Staff

GLASSBORO--A long-vacant elementary school here will soon have a second lease on life - as the birthplace of new business.

Rowan University's trustees voted Wednesday to buy the former Academy Street School from the borough for up to $ 300,000. The building is to be converted into an incubator for science and technology companies and university office space.

The school plans to invest about $2 million in property renovations, said Rowan President Donald Farish. The new facility could be operating as early as a year from now.

"We have a real need for the Academy Street School as space," Farish said. "But we're also cognizant that we're converting a derelict building now surrounded by chain-link fence ... into a thriving enterprise."

Mayor Alvin Shpeen welcomed Rowan's investment in the struggling downtown.

"It'll bring people into the center of town," Shpeen said. "The type operation they plan to put in there will probably bring 50 or 60 people into the building.

"Consider those people coming out for lunch and bringing their laundry to local dry cleaners during their lunch hour," Shpeen said. "That exactly what we want."

Farish said he'd like to incorporate the business incubator into a high-technology center that Rowan plans for a site at routes 322 and 55 in Mantua. Completion of that center is at least two years away.

Eventually, the Academy Street School site will hold grant- funded outreach services and office space, Farish said.

The university is seeking a $1.5 million grant from the state's Science and Technology Commission to help offset start-up costs of the incubator.

The 30,000-square-foot school, opened in the 1920s, was closed about eight years ago when the Dorothy L. Bullock School was finished. The borough is acquiring the building through eminent domain proceedings under its downtown redevelopment plan.

Farish said the incubator could house as many as eight to 10 fledgling businesses.

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Date Published: Thursday, December 13, 2001 - 14:08
Source URL: Courier-Post