Faulkner University President Michael Williams announces expansion
In what was described as a historic day for Faulkner University, President Mike Williams announced the private college’s major expansion and purchase of a nearby shopping plaza for more space.
The neighboring 13-acre Montgomery East Plaza property with over 150,000 square feet of building space will be the future home of four health sciences programs, allowing the school to expand with about 500 new graduate students and 50 new faculty members.
The purchase, Williams said Thursday morning, is a re-investment in Montgomery, specifically east Montgomery and Atlanta Highway. An estimation of a $250 million impact, he said, is a conservative number.
“The acquisition of this property provides a tremendous opportunity for Faulkner University to expand our institutional footprint and reinvest in our city,” Williams said.
The first step in this project will be to renovate the space that formerly housed Burlington Coat Factory, which recently moved to Eastchase.
The space will be occupied by Faulkner’s speech and language pathology program with its clinic, as well as three new programs and an autism center. The school is set to launch its physician assistant program in the fall and is working on its accreditation to start a physical therapy program in 2021, followed by occupational therapy in 2022.
The former Burlington Coat Factory building will become Faulkner University’s new College of Health Sciences at the Montgomery East Plaza in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, June 25, 2020. (Photo: Jake Crandall/ Advertiser)
The speech and language clinic is currently located on Woodmere Boulevard. After its move, it will continue to serve the public free of charge.
As these programs attract top scholars nationwide who will call Montgomery home while gaining degrees, it is the hope that some will go on to call Alabama’s capital their permanent homes, Williams said.
The deal does not include the Hardee’s, El Jalisco or Root Salon, which are located in the plaza’s parking lot.
The leases of current businesses located at the property — including Mr. Chen’s, Sunday Dinner, Beauty and Beyond, Lek’s and others — will be honored, Williams said. Eventually, those spaces will be used by the university but the hope is that the businesses will remain for now, he added.
“It is always encouraging to see one of our partners growing, especially those focused on education and community advancement. However, to see this growth during the economic slowdown associated with COVID-19 is even more exciting and a harbinger of the rebound to come,” Mayor Steven Reed said in an email. “Faulkner University’s expansion is a win-win situation for our city and its academic institutions, and we look forward to their continued progress both on and off campus in Montgomery.”
A Faulkner representative declined to give a specific dollar amount spent on the property, but said it was a multi-million dollar deal.
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Krista Johnson at
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