Having the free Gold Rush shuttle on campus demonstrates that Johnson C. Smith University is making inroads toward Center City, and a new housing initiative for students is on the way.
A 300 bed complex is being proposed for West Trade Street.
Local architect Darrell Williams and his staffers started working on these plans long before the mortgage meltdown.
"It's goanna create a lot of opportunity along the west trade corridor," he said. "It's really goanna help transform an area of our city."
Students housing is just one piece of a multifaceted puzzle to be built along Beatties Ford Road that will include retail and a new parking deck that may be paid for with city dollars.
It is a unique partnership. The property is owned by the Griffin family of Griffin Brothers tire fame, but will be managed by JCSU.
Mike Griffin has been working with the college for the last two years.
"To me the catalyst was Johnson C. Smith to get outside of the gates and help revitalize the corridor, " he said.
JCSU's new arts center is next door to the proposed housing development, and the goal is to make the university more accessible to the community.
Malcolm Graham is the special assistant to JSCU President Dr. Ronald Carter.
"We're moving progressively forward," Graham said. " We've been planning and doing our homework for the last 14 months. We're moving from planning to implementation."
When ground is broken, it means that the West End Market will have to find a new home, but the plans is to fast track the new construction efforts and have the student new apartments ready by the fall of 2012.