Troy University-Phenix City at the center of downtown riverfront revival

Troy University-Phenix City at the center of downtown riverfront revival
Troy University in Phenix City (Bernard Troncale/Alabama NewsCenter)

You never know what one action might cause, but Troy University-Phenix City officials had high hopes when they received the first private donation toward a new downtown campus.

Troy officials faced the daunting task of raising $9 million from private sources and the $250,000 donation from the Alabama Power Foundation was the catalyst that essentially jump-started development of Phenix City’s downtown riverfront district.

Troy University-Phenix City at the center of downtown riverfront revival from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“We had businesses and individuals on both sides of the river prepared to donate,” said Troy’s Regional Director of Development Kathy Ninas, “but no one was willing to be the first. Benefactors from Columbus and other communities were reluctant to jump in until they saw significant support from donors on the Alabama side of the river.”

Time was also a critical factor for the project. About two years earlier, the city had razed a section of a housing complex on the prime “triangle” portion of riverfront property at the 13th Street Bridge. The property was donated to Troy University with the stipulation that construction start within three years or ownership would revert to the city.

“So you see, we were really at a do-or-die point and that first private donation got the ball rolling, and once we began construction it just kept rolling,” Ninas said.

Adjacent to the 44,000-square-foot, four-story Troy University campus building, a Courtyard Marriott was built based on the latest designs from the parent company. Both facilities offer stunning views of the swift Chattahoochee River.

“We knew other businesses were poised to come, but it all hinged on our commitment to the riverfront development project,” Ninas said.

The new Troy campus sits on the 1.2-mile riverwalk that begins a short distance away at a 3,000-seat amphitheater. Directly across the river – a short stroll across the historic pedestrian 14th Street Bridge – is Columbus, Ga., which boasts a 15-mile riverwalk that stretches into Fort Benning.

Both riverwalks offer excellent views of the world-class whitewater recreational course that boasts class II through V whitewater and the only dual zip line that connects two states. The zip line adventure offers an aerial obstacle course.

“The Alabama Power Foundation is proud to support projects that encourage economic prosperity and help communities reach their full potential,” said Myla Calhoun, president of the Alabama Power Foundation. “A main goal of the foundation is to spark positive change for our state, and it is inspiring to see that goal realized through strong projects like this one.”

Troy’s new riverfront campus houses business, nursing and social work programs. It includes the Center for Water Resource Economics, the Center for Risk Management Insurance and the Small Business Accelerator. It also serves as the center of the Phenix City Campus’ community outreach program and is available for community events.

“We are excited about what this new facility means for this community and for Troy University,” said Chancellor Jack Hawkins. “This building will serve as the core of what will ultimately be a larger facility that will house all of our programs in Phenix City. This is the realization of a grand vision that began more than a decade ago, and it is only through partnerships and community support that it stands here today.”


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