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Liberty employees occupy former Sears building

June 27, 2013 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty University did extensive renovations to the former Sears building in record time — five weeks — to prepare for the move of about 675 employees to the site. The work has rendered the building unrecognizable as a department store, as it now houses 39 offices, 11 conference rooms, two break rooms, and two bathrooms.

Liberty University employees are settling into their new home in the former Sears building at River Ridge Mall. About 675 employees are being relocated from Green Hall to the new site, which the university purchased last year for $6.9 million.

Liberty has presented a proposal for the site to be used as a regional civic center, conference center, and hotel, and is currently in discussions with area groups and planners. The university would not own the center but would be its primary tenant.

The 112,000-square-foot building will be used in the short term as a main operations center for Liberty University Online, including members of Liberty’s Enrollment Management team. The space will also be used for a television studio for the School of Communication & Creative Arts.

The move, which officially began June 17, is part of a chain of moves taking place throughout campus as the university undergoes a $400 million campus rebuilding plan, with some of its oldest academic buildings being demolished and new ones built.

Liberty’s Bruckner Learning Center and Center for Academic Support and Advising Services (CASAS), currently located in Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center, will be moving into the vacated space in Green Hall.

According to Scott Starnes, Liberty’s vice president of Field Operations, the university did extensive renovations to the former Sears building in record time — five weeks — to prepare for the move. The work has rendered the building unrecognizable as a department store, as it now houses 39 offices, 11 conference rooms, two break rooms, and two bathrooms. He credited the success to project manager Charles Hylton.

An outside view of the former Sears building at River Ridge Mall, which will soon house about 675 Liberty University employees.

Brian Soistmann, a management analyst for Liberty, has been coordinating Enrollment Management’s move to the mall site, working with Hylton, as well as Jane Himes, a member of the IT Communications team, and other university departments to make a smooth transition.

“There are a lot of moving parts, but everyone’s done a great job,” he said.

He expects the move to take another two weeks and said employees could remain there for two years or more, depending on how plans for a civic center develop.

“We have room to grow if the decision was made that we need to stay longer,” he said.

All Liberty University Online students and others needing assistance are being directed to the Hancock Welcome Center on campus, where staff are fully equipped to serve them.