This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services
. The author of this post is Ken Buday
Officials with East Carolina University, Elliott Sidewalk Communities and the city of Greenville break ground on the first phase of Intersect East. (Photos by Cliff Hollis).
Gold-colored shovels turned ceremonial dirt Tuesday as Intersect East kicked off its first phase in redevelopment of East Carolina University's former warehouse district.
Developer Elliott Sidewalk Communities joined with university officials, Board of Trustees members, and local and state leaders in breaking ground on the $40 million project to renovate three buildings on the 19-acre tract off 10th Street and within sight of ECU's new Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building.
"Intersect East will be a vital connection between businesses, industries, communities and individuals that partner with East Carolina University, with faculty, staff and students finding solutions to tomorrow's problems,"
said Merrill Flood, director of ECU's Millennial Campus planning and local community affairs.
The first phase includes 10,000 square feet in the former Export Leaf Building for the College of Engineering and Technology's new digital transformation center that will cater to new and existing companies.
"They will work with companies, industries and others in areas of digital transformation, product prototyping, discoveries and workforce development,"
Flood said. "This will continue to shape Greenville's history as a center of excellence and economic development for the region, the state and the nation."
Tim Elliott, managing partner of Elliott Sidewalk Communities, anticipates completion of the first phase of the project in December 2022. He said several companies, including one from Raleigh and another from Brazil, have shown interest in becoming tenants in the development. He thanked ECU and Greenville officials for having a vision for a project many dubbed a gateway to the city and the university.
"We're here at the intersection of history and technology and the future,"
Chancellor Philip Rogers called the ceremony a chance to celebrate the best of the university and the best of Greenville.
"We can be loud and proud and excited about the future of East Carolina University here on the millennial campus of Intersect East,"
Rogers said. "... What an exciting milestone this is for our community."
The lease agreement between ECU and Elliott Sidewalk Communities to develop the innovation hub was approved by the UNC Board of Governors in 2020 as a public-private partnership. Public-private partnerships are collaborations in which private companies invest in public projects for a return while shielding public entities, like universities, from risk.
Tuesday's ceremony marked the first step in a broad eight-year plan that includes a more than $150 million investment to renovate 14 buildings and create green space, office space, dining and residential living. Along with that comes an estimated 1,500 jobs with a financial impact exceeding $141 million annually with $3 million in annual tax revenues, according to the developer.
"One of the things I love the most about Greenville, North Carolina, is that we know how to get things done and we come together,"
Rogers said. "We know how to get things done, and nobody can stop us. I've seen it time and time again, and Intersect East is just that. It's the very essence of the spirit of this community coming together to get something big done here in Greenville, North Carolina. It's the intersection of a vision that bridges together our very best assets into a hub of innovation."
Work on the first three buildings - dubbed The Prizery, The Stemmery and The Hammock Factory - is expected to start within weeks, with large orange and white barriers already on site to cordon off the area.
Rogers emphasized the work of so many to make the project a reality. As someone who grew up in Greenville, he said the city has changed so much since his youth, and Intersect East is the next project to move the university and city forward.
"Whether it's growth in our educational assets, our physical infrastructure, our medical enterprise here in Greenville, our industrial partners, our arts and dining facilities, our amenities and so many others, we really are fortunate to live, to work and to play in a dynamic, vibrant eastern North Carolina community,"
he said. "As we gather to celebrate the real beginning of the next great transformative moment, this next great wave point, this milestone in our collective history, it's something that we've dreamed of; a time when we can leverage our millennial designation with this acreage into a space of innovation, education, research, entrepreneurship and opportunities to collide together and generate smart growth among our communities."
"We really do stand in a district today that was once a vibrant economic center within our community, and now we're going to embark together with Elliott Sidewalk Communities and many others into a period that will once again bring vibrancy to this land and to this area."
He said Intersect East is just one more way ECU will play a role in transforming eastern North Carolina.
"I often say that ECU has to be inextricably linked with our community in order to advance our mission of public service, of student success and of regional transformation,"
Rogers said. "And I've said since the very beginning that in order for ECU to thrive, we have to be a mission-aligned institution, we have to be a future-focused institution and an innovation-driven institution, and I really believe that this captures the essence, that this project captures the epitome of that work in action."