Anchoring High Street’s artful future

Anchoring High Street’s artful future


Rowan University today unveiled plans for a new downtown art gallery designed to further integrate the school and borough and boost the local economy with an Arts & Entertainment district.

The University bought the property at 301 W. High Street, a stalled private condominium project, in 2013 and is redesigning and renovating the 15,000 square foot space.

Rowan President Dr. Ali Houshmand said between the art gallery site – which the University bought for $440,000 and is investing $5.3 million to convert – and other major projects, Rowan and its business and government partners are literally transforming the historic downtown.

“Arts and entertainment are always a strong anchor in any community,” Houshmand said.

The building will be the western anchor for the developing Arts & Entertainment district. An eastern anchor is the Let’s Dance Studio and plans are underway to return a theater to the downtown. The Winterland Ice Skating Rink opened on High Street last year and a variety of festivals are now held on nearby Rowan Boulevard.

In addition to the all-new gallery, the building will include several classrooms and faculty offices, which is expected to generate even more energy and foot traffic along High Street.

The Rowan Boulevard project, a $300 million private investment half a block from 301 West High, is transforming the downtown with housing, restaurants, retail and the first new Glassboro hotel in generations.

The University recently leased 6 E. High Street, a historic bank building formerly home to Land Dimensions Engineering, and has transferred the administration and journalism faculty from the College of Communication & Creative Arts to it.

Since 2012 Rowan opened one medical school, acquired a second, and was named the second comprehensive public research university in the state. Its nationally ranked Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering is adding a second building that will enable it to double enrollment and ground was broken in December for a new building for the Rohrer College of Business.

Houshmand noted that interest has grown in and around Rowan Boulevard since it began in 2008. The University leases two apartment complexes, shares space in the mixed use Whitney Center, and located its graduate and non-traditional programs, contained within the Division of Global Learning and Partnerships, in the mixed use Enterprise Center.

“Clearly, our investment in Rowan Boulevard has spurred other investment and our hope is that even more will follow,” Houshmand said.

Glassboro Mayor Leo McCabe said it already is. High Street over the past two years has seen a variety of new restaurant and retail investments. The borough's main Delsea Drive corridor is also enjoying a resurgence as a wide variety of new businesses are drawn to the college town. 

“We are becoming a destination,” he said.