Renderings of the new residence halls revealed on Friday. (AMANDA KING/STAFF)
Paine College President Jerry Hardee announced plans Friday to build three new buildings for the private school. The only problem: There is currently no money to construct the buildings.
The college provided renderings of two 250-bed residence halls and a dining facility to be constructed across the street from the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel on Druid Park Avenue. Each of the residence halls will be $12 million, according to Dr. Dwayne Crew, assistant to the president, while a 10,000-square-foot abandoned warehouse will be renovated and the roof replaced to be the dining facility.
Travis Weatherly, CFO of Snellville, Ga.-based consulting firm Parramore and Quinn that would handled the project, said the lack of funding at this time isn’t an issue.
“This is not abnormal for colleges,” he said. “This particular one will be private investment, and they do it for a return on their investment. Nothing fancy—just finding the right people who are willing to do it.”
The administration and students see the residence halls as a necessity. According to its website, Paine has three residence halls—Epworth Hall, built in 1925, Belle Bennett Hall, built in 1962 and Ervin Hall, built in 1967. All halls were last renovated in 2008.
“We’re going to make sure this is done right and done in a way that can be managed by the institution. I’m not going to get you into a situation that’s going to be unmanageable,” Hardee said. “We’re going to do it right, we are going to be fiscally responsible, and we’re going to try to turn this project out on time.”
Monetary issues have plagued Paine in recent years. It is currently on probation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. SACS voted to take away Paine’s accreditation in 2016 after it failed to meet financial standards. Paine responded by filing a lawsuit, claiming SACS’s standards are biased against small private colleges. The lawsuit is pending and Paine is considered accredited but on probation.
Weatherly said the first residence hall should be completed by spring 2019, and the administration hopes to have one building completed each year for the next three years, although much planning is still needed. The student government is involved in the planning to create a space where students want to live.
“The student body is so thankful for new dormitories, and although we appreciate the place we have now, the advancement and the emerging of the new dorm is definitely going to take Paine College to the right direction,” student body representative Sarah Avera said.