CROWN POINT — Officials at the University of St. Francis aren't wasting time when it comes to going forward with a $7 million building expansion.
The Plan Commission granted site development approval on Monday and a groundbreaking ceremony will be held for the nursing school at 10 a.m. Friday at 12800 Mississippi Parkway.
The expansion of the University of St. Francis is just part of a major development being planned on a 510-acre property at the southeast corner of Interstate 65 and U.S. 231 that will also include a new hospital and the potential relocation of Andrean High School.
Groundbreaking for the new hospital is expected to take place later this month, a Franciscan Alliance spokesman said.
The addition of 19,000 square feet of academic space at the University of St. Francis will double the university site's footprint and enrollment is also expected to double, said Sandie Phalen, director of marketing, development and enrollment at the University of St. Francis in Crown Point.
The project will be completed by July 20 and classes will start in fall 2021, Phalen said.
The University of St. Francis in Crown Point opened in 2006, leasing space at what was then known as St. Anthony Medical Center. The school moved to its present location in January 2011 after outgrowing that space, Phalen said.
Nursing shortage cited
Phalen said the school was approached by officials from Franciscan Alliance to open their enrollment since there is a shortage of nurses and both radiological and surgical technicians.
Enrollment at the University of St. Francis is currently around 220, Phalen said.
"We will be looking to add other programs where there is a shortage as well," Phalen said.
Dan Rohaley, a member of the city's plan commission and an advisory board member at the University of St. Francis, was pleased to be one of the planners unanimously approving the project, calling the school "a premier school of nursing."
The University of St. Francis president, the Rev. Eric Albert Zimmer, said: “We are thrilled to begin this project, which will expand our USF Crown Point academic programs and fill a need for additional quality health care professionals in Northwest Indiana. “We look forward to this continued partnership with Franciscan Alliance to benefit the community.”
In other business, the Plan Commission:
• Approved a site development request for Advanced Auto Parts Store to be built at 890 N. Superior Drive.
• Approved a zone change for a commercial/office plaza to be built at 1110 Merrillville Road.
• Approved a site development request for a combination office/warehouse to be built at 501 112th Ave.
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