By Mike Wilcox
Point University transforming area
West Point and Chambers County don’t know how lucky they are to have Point University in their midst.
The private Christian college that moved from Atlanta in 2012 to downtown West Point is almost single-handedly reinvigorating the area. With nearly 1500 students, many of them housed at the former Crest Club Apartments in Valley and bussed to classes in West Point daily, the college is poised to grow by leaps and bounds.
Living within walking distance from the college, I see the hustle and bustle of students coming to and fro, and the noises of hammers and saws, as construction continues in earnest of the re-development of decade-old buildings for additional housing and classrooms.
Just last year the college purchased the Riverside Golf Club in Lanett. One would wonder what a private college would want with a public golf course, but in short order they have renamed the course to Point University Golf Club, and have spruced up and renovated the grounds, added a full-service restaurant, and remodeled the events center to make it a first class destination point for individuals and businesses.
Two weeks ago the college announced a five year master plan that calls for the construction of housing for 900 students in downtown West Point; a 1000-seat worship center, and additional parking spaces to accommodate the new activity.
The first order of business is to transform the current site of the old West Point Foundry building on Third Avenue in West Point in to a 400-bed dormitory facility. Four hundred additional students spending 24-7 in downtown West Point, will create a boon for area businesses. Restaurants, gas stations, clothing stores, etc. will all benefit greatly with the additional traffic.
Part of the development will also include the aforementioned worship center to be located on Second Avenue across from J. Smith Lanier & Co., a facility and practice center for the band, which would be located on Fourth Avenue, west of the current academic building.
There is also talk of the City closing off portions of Tenth St, Fourth Ave and Ninth St. to create a so-called commons area or park-like setting where students could mingle and walk from class building to class building without having to deal with vehicle traffic.
The master plan calls for an additional 600 parking spaces. 200 spaces would be added next to the dormitory while 400 would be adjacent to the worship center. Right now the college has only 152 parking spaces.
The economic impact, which West Point and Chambers County have already enjoyed, will only get greater. Point University will spend $3 million for capital expenditures in 2016 and each year thereafter that number will increase.