Gannon University’s building acquisitions in downtown Erie are piling up.
The Loyal Christian Benefit Association building at West Seventh and Peach streets has been in Gannon’s possession for almost a year and a half. Aside from the initial rumors, there have been few signs of progress in the conversion of the building for university use.
Gannon purchased the building in late 2011 for $727,500. The initial reports suggested that the first floor was going to be used to house the Schuster Gallery and the upper office floors would house the theatre and communication arts department.
The Schuster Gallery currently resides on the third floor of the Nash Library, which suffers from low amounts of student traffic. The theatre and communications department currently resides across Sassafras Street in Scottino Hall.
According to Gary Garnic, associate vice president for campus services, the conversion progress might pick up in the near future. Initially, members of the theatre and communications arts department were prepared to move in, but those plans are now on hold.
“Those thoughts and notes and plans are all siting in a folder now waiting,” Garnic said.
It was discovered that more classrooms and offices were needed for the space. So, to handle the problem efficiently, the administration enlisted a space planner to map out offices and classrooms to maximize efficiency.
The space-planning agencies are currently being discussed and proposals are starting to pop up.
“There’s nothing that I’m aware of that would change us from thinking that the theatreand comm arts is heading to the LCBA,” Garnic said.
According to Garnic, in addition to the offices, the Schuster Gallery, audio studio and even the radio station are tentatively penciled into the building; all of these hinging on the space planner.
“Once the dominoes start to topple there’s no end to the changes that can take place,” Garnic said.
Once the space planner has decided who ends up in the LCBA building, renovations will begin.
Looking ahead, Garnic believes the move will take place in the next year and that the theatre and communication arts department will only fill out two-thirds of the building, potentially leaving space for other offices.
The Rev. Shawn Clerkin, associate professor of theatre, said that he believes the move will be good for the students of the program.
“It will be returning the space to what it was meant to be,” Clerkin said.
He explained that the offices and classrooms in the building were meant to be used for studios and creation and when the faculty members are gone, they’ll be able to be used properly.
Clerkin hopes that the move will bring unity to the department as well as repurposing old office for more student space. Time will tell when exactly the eventual move happens.