By WILLIAM LANEY
December 10, 2013
LIMA — Rhodes State College is likely taking the final steps in securing real estate and inching closer to its dream of having a presence in downtown Lima.
Tenants of a building on the southeast corner of Town Square told The Lima News they have been informed they must move by Dec. 31 because Rhodes State College is purchasing the building, while others have posted signs indicating they are closed or liquidating.
Marketing and College Relations Director Edwina Blackwell Clark would not comment and referred all inquiries to Rhodes State College President Debra McCurdy, who declined to comment.
In May 2011, McCurdy declared if a move is made then it would be downtown. “If we are going to be off-site, this is where it needs to be.”
The school would be part of the downtown revitalization and would be closer to both Lima hospitals, which would be a benefit to the students.
”This would have a tremendous advantage for the college as well as the city,” she said in a story published in The Lima News in May 2011.
At the time, Rhodes State College offered three nursing classes in the Veterans Memorial Civic Center and talks intensified regarding moving portions of the school's health programs to downtown locations. Rhodes administrators began working with Tim Stanford, of Yocum Realty, to study the feasibility of locating in an existing building or finding space to construct a new building.
Some aspects of the allied health or nursing programs could be moved without moving the entire program.
At the time, nursing made up 29 percent of the school's students and allied health made up 25 percent. At that time, both programs combined had more than 900 students.
McCurdy unveiled plans to move a program to downtown Lima in May 2010.
Mayor Dave Berger welcomed the addition to the downtown.
“Rhodes has, of course, announced their hope to move downtown and we've applauded that and we are anxious to see their project move forward,” Berger said.
He declined to comment on what programming would be offered at the new building.
The Rev. Mark Gordon, who pastors for the Bruised Reed Ministries, viewed the closing of the Life Coaching Center on South Main Street with a positive outlook and praised the revitalization of the downtown with Rhodes State College moving to the South Main Street location across from the Veterans Memorial Civic Center.
“I think it is good for the downtown and I don't think this is bad at all,” said Gordon, who confirmed the Rev. Jim Menke informed him Rhodes State College was purchasing the building. “They have been trying to do things to improve the downtown square and this will be a positive.
Gordon said Menke informed the other ministers who operate in the center that they have to be out by Dec. 31. They have been in the facility for the past nine years.
“I don't think it is bad for us because something will come up,” Gordon said. “We now need help with a building. We need someone to give us a building, to give all of us a building for a community center to help with the homeless because there are a lot of people in the area who are starting to know more about this through a greater awareness and that those people are interested in making a difference. There are a lot of people who want to get involved.
“I can't believe that with everybody coming together now that fate is going to shut this down,” he said. “I think we are turning the page and that we will be able to amp this thing up so we can provide a little bit more help such as a community shelter and then being able to teach them some life skills.”
A sign on one business in the building, Miriam's Closet, said it was having a liquidation sale.
Space in the building is owned by Tri C Enterprises LLC, Roger Wright Leasing, Laura Allen and Eleanor Baker. No deed transfers have been recorded with the Allen County Auditor's Office.