North Greenville University is branching down from its main campus in Tigerville into Greer.
The move will bring the college’s graduate schools and new course offerings to the former location of the Ryan’s corporate office building on Lancaster Avenue, near the intersection of Wade Hampton Boulevard and Poinsett Street.
The university acquired the 10.2-acre property and 31,000-square-foot building just days before the adjacent Ryan’s restaurant closed as part of its parent company’s bankruptcy and restructuring.
By January a new physician assistant master’s program will begin on site, once some renovations are complete. By fall the university’s existing graduate programs will begin moving to the new facility along with the College of Adult Professional Studies and other personnel who have worked out of the main campus and at the Tim Brashier Center on Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville.
Ryan’s Family Steakhouses was founded by Upstate native Alvin McCall in 1977 in Greer, where it was headquartered for years. Now that site’s redevelopment will herald a new era for the city, according to Greer Mayor Rick Danner.
“I think that’s going to be a great benefit for the city, and I think it will be for the school as well,” Danner said. “It’s significant. It’s another piece of that puzzle. We keep talking about quality of life issues and different things. This is one of the things that we were really missing. We’ve had some presence from different universities in the city in different kinds of fashions, but this will be one of the first times anybody has really driven a fulltime stake in the ground.”
School officials say the new facility – on property valued at $1,637,660 – offers opportunity for the university to grow. The move frees space that had been leased from Fairview Baptist Church just a few blocks north and at Pleasantburg Drive, the location of a former Steak & Ale restaurant where school officials are evaluating new possibilities.
“This is an investment in the future,” said North Greenville interim president Randall Pannell. “In many ways it is a game-changer for the university. We definitely want to be a good citizen as well as a partner with the city of Greer. It is a city on the move with excellent city government and a very bright future.”
The physician assistant program join business, Christian ministry, education, health science and music education as North Greenville’s graduate-level offerings.
The facility’s proximity to the Jean M. Smith Branch of the Greenville County Library System could make it a candidate to be linked in to the Greer pedestrian and bicycling plan city officials are developing, Danner said.