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Liberty's Plaza gains a new resident

January 23, 2009 : University Advancement staff

Liberty University welcomed Centra Health’s Lynchburg Family Medicine Residency Program to a newly renovated office and clinical center this week in the lower level of the Plaza shopping center located in mid-town Lynchburg, Va.

Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. attended the grand opening on Monday, Jan. 19. The program serves as a treatment center and training space for new doctors.

Liberty became the owners of the Plaza in late 2007 and has spent more than $500,000 in repairs and enhancements. With the newest addition of this center, Liberty is working to achieve the goal of bringing the Plaza back to its former glory.

Alan Askew, Liberty University’s project manager for the Plaza, said a second new tenant, Super Dollar Discount Foods, which will offer groceries, pharmacy services and a gas station, is on time for an anticipated spring opening.

He said updates to the rest of the 42-acre property that includes 467,000 square feet of building space (with the shopping center and all its outparcels — a movie theater, a McDonald’s and a 73,000-square-foot building that formerly housed a Roses department store) are well under way.

“We have continued along with major roofing improvements and have really gotten everything in good working order … we have been working on general exterior façade improvements as well. It really is starting to take shape and garner some positive interest, even with the current economic situation,” he said.

At this time, Liberty does not intend to use the property for classroom or other university uses, although the School of Aeronautics is temporarily housing mechanics labs in a portion of the old Roses department store while fundraising is under way for a permanent facility at the airport.

Askew said this type of real estate venture is a first for Liberty, but the school took on the challenge because it was a great opportunity to build either an endowment or annuity. It was also a chance for Liberty to help revive an important part of the city and make an impact on the community.

“It’s exciting watching the project as it continues to develop into something that is not only beneficial for Liberty, but for the entire community as well,” he said.

With the move to the Plaza, the Centra Lynchburg Family Medicine Residency Program has seen many benefits. It now has more space to treat patients, with the number of exam rooms expanding from 12 to 24, as well as more space for teaching and community programs. The center also has new laboratory and X-ray facilities. With plenty of parking and a location on a bus route, the center is also more accessible for patients.

“We are very excited about our new center and what this will mean for our patients, residents, faculty and staff,” said Charles E. Driscoll, M.D, director.