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Proposed downtown university campus closer to construction

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A proposed university campus is one step closer to construction.

April Harris, executive director of Action Greensboro, tells FOX8 a site has been selected and will be announced next Tuesday.

"It's really getting a lot of momentum," said Harris. Opportunity Greensboro has been collaborating with universities and colleges in Greensboro and Cone Health.

The first step would be building a nursing program where students could achieve everything from a two-year degree with GTCC to an associates degree with A&T and even a Ph.D. with UNCG.

Each of those schools has nursing programs. They are interested in growing, enrolling more students and investing in high-tech equipment.

"These simulation centers and clinical labs are very expensive to outfit, the mannequins that come alive and we do simulations with are very expensive, the equipment that needs to look and mirror equipment our students will encounter in the hospital and health system," said Robin Remsburg, Dean of UNCG's School of Nursing.

But sharing the costs of a new simulation lab with other local colleges makes the idea more plausible.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for us to share resources that can be very expensive but are very much needed for nursing education," Remsburg added.

Harris explained nursing would only be the beginning. "We could have entrepreneurship, or we could have online classes or anything the schools might want to share in costs. ... So this is the the first building of hopefully many, many buildings that create an entire downtown campus."

Both point out the economic impact a downtown campus would have in Greensboro.

Remsburg said, "It's also a way to help the vitalization in downtown. To bring the nursing students and faculty that will be there and have a presence on a regular basis. I think that helps keep downtown vital and healthy."

Harris also suggested a potential for more retailers, restaurants and downtown housing.

"The entire project is projected to cost about forty million dollars, and we are looking to open in Fall of 2016."

The potential sites include the South Elm redevelopment area off Lee Street, an area South of NewBridge Bank Park where the Grasshoppers play baseball and a section of land next to Greensboro College off West Market Street.

Harris said the schools would lease the buildings, which would be independently owned. They'd immediately start looking for private donors once the project moved forward. They would potentially ask the city to cover the cost of a parking deck and some infrastructure improvements.