College Planning & Management

JUN 2012

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MENDING FENCES would ultimately require an investment of more than $26M into a community of 7,000 residents. State funds, federal tax credits, and the Radnor Property Group's private capital supplemented Bucknell's investment. Moving Forward Through Transformation Today, these four projects have trans- formed Lewisburg and Bucknell, in part by triggering other projects. The Lewisburg Neighborhoods Corporation has secured federal grant funding to remove student rental properties in a fl ood-prone area between campus and downtown. A private developer is planning to renovate and replace other student rental properties in that corridor with more upscale properties. The state has planning improvements to the Route 15 Corridor, which bisects both the campus and the town. And recently, local offi cials dedicated a 12-mile rail trail with a terminus near the downtown. The Core Community projects are receiving attention across Pennsylvania. The bookstore, for example, won recogni- tion from both the Pennsylvania Section of the American Institute of Architects and 10,000 Friends, a statewide smart growth association. The basic, underlying premise in these projects was that the University could use some of its strategic assets to revitalize the core of Lewisburg's downtown. Bucknell recognized that a dynamic commercial core makes it easier for the University to attract students, faculty, and administrative staff. Bucknell's strategy has improved the business climate downtown and increased tax payments to Lewisburg. Downtown businesspeople are almost uniformly extolling these ventures. Lessons Learned What, then, are the lessons that can be taken from the Bucknell Lewisburg Project? 1. Scale shouldn't be an inhibiting factor. The University of Pennsylvania had been a model for Pennsylvania institu- tions pursuing community develop- ment collaboratives. But Penn's size 64 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / JUNE 2012 and location is signifi cantly different from most colleges and universities. If it can be done in Lewisburg and at Bucknell, it can be done anywhere. 2. Visionary leadership is required. Insti- tutions that have created successful community development partnerships have visionary leadership within the university and clear, strong support from the political and economic leader- ship of the community. 3. Partnerships are vital. While a college might be able to do it alone, commu- nity initiatives won't be as effective without active community partners. It was vitally important for the business community and the local govern- ment offi cials to support Bucknell's initiatives. The partnership helped to diffuse concerns about the University dominating the town. 4. Identify and capitalize on existing as- sets. In each project, Bucknell used an asset that could easily have remained on campus: its bookstore, a perform- ing arts venue, administrative offi ces, and a small business support network. These assets served a broader com- munity good by being located in the core business district, in a way that enhanced other businesses and made these resources available to a broader audience. In each case, the facility that was used for these projects was an un- derutilized building that was recycled. 5. Think comprehensively, grow incre- mentally, and be prepared to alter your planning priorities. Have a broad vision, but understand that community development doesn't occur overnight. Bucknell had to adapt and change its plans several times based on external factors. Even the fi rst projects needed to be developed in phases, but there remained a clear underlying vision about what the ultimate goal should be. Transformation is ongoing, iterative, and evolutionary. 6. Emphasize quality. The bookstore project has won several awards because of the quality of its historic renovation WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM

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