CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Setting up shop in a historic building in downtown Huntington should be beneficial for Marshall University, the city and the local economy, said Marshall President Stephen Kopp.
The university plans to move its College of Fine Arts Visual Arts Center to the former Stone & Thomas building, located on 3rd Avenue across the street from Pullman Square.
"We feel very strongly the buildings in that area need to be a showpiece for the city," Kopp said Friday in a phone interview.
"When you look at the fact that hundreds of Marshall University students are going to be located and taking class down there . . . it brings a lot of foot traffic to the downtown areas," he continued.
Last week, the board of governors voted to award Huntington-based Neighborgall Construction the contract for the project. Its roughly $10.9 million base bid was the least expensive of the seven companies vying for the project.
The currently vacant, seven-story building is slated to cater to more than just students when it opens 14 months from now. The bottom floor will serve as a "front porch" of sorts, said Matt Turner, Kopp's chief of staff: The gallery space in this area will give students and local artists the chance to display their work and interact.
There will be traditional classrooms, labs and more on the remaining floors, he said.
"The arts center offers an invigorating place accessible to our entire region - a community hungry for cultural expression, enrichment, and pertinent dialogue that engages its citizenry," Turner said in an email.
Kopp sees great potential with the project, for his university and the community.