PSU, city celebrate Block22 project

  Wednesday, April 26, 2017 2:00 AM
  News, People and Society

Pittsburg, KS

PSU, city celebrate Block22 project

Block22 is a project to transform four historic properties in downtown Pittsburg into a “living-learning community” for Pittsburg State University students. It’s a joint project between Pittsburg State, the City of Pittsburg and a private developer, the Vecino Group from Springfield, Mo.

"As we celebrate this moment, it's the perfect time to celebrate the partnership we enjoy between Pittsburg State and the city of Pittsburg," said PSU President Steve Scott. "The relationship we have is very special, and I would argue that it is the envy of college towns across America." 

Pittsburg Mayor Michael Gray, a PSU alumnus, said the beginning of Block22 marks an "exciting time" in the community.

"I think we will look back on this project 20 years from now and know that this was an event that helped to transform downtown Pittsburg," Gray said. 

Block22 plans call for the renovation of four mostly empty historic buildings at Fourth and Broadway, the heart of downtown Pittsburg. The design combines 105 beds of PSU student housing with dedicated innovation space and resources for both students and local entrepreneurs. The targeted student population is upperclassmen and graduate students.

In addition to the student housing, the living-learning community will also include offices for the University Center for Business and Innovation Development, a makerspace (a collaborative community workspace designed for creativity and prototyping), business incubator, co-working area, and a multi-function event and educational space. The properties will be operated and managed by the university, which will sub-lease a portion of the commercial space to further support downtown redevelopment and generate additional revenue to support the project.

"We've envisioned the combination of three things: students, community members and folks who are ideas people," said Shawn Naccarato, executive director of PSU’s Center for Business and Innovation Development. "We see Block22 as a structure wherein we can help them grow and flourish." 

Mat Burton, a PSU alumnus and chief operating officer for The Vecino Group, said Block22 is a nod the future of Pittsburg and also a sign of respect for the community's past.

"Pittsburg is not the only community with a vibrant and rich history," Burton said. "But very few communities are able to build that bridge between what was and what could be. Pittsburg is successful because of the commitment shown by people in the city and at the university and other business leaders throughout the community."

The total cost of Block22 is estimated at $18 million, of which the city would invest $1.5 million. PSU will conduct fundraising to cover its $1 million investment. The developer is expected to receive federal and state historic and new-market tax credits of about $10 million.

Block22 is projected to open in August 2018.