ALBEMARLE — As announced on Feb. 10, the City of Albemarle has officially received a NC Main Street Award as presented by the NC Department of Commerce and the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center.
The 2021 Award of Merit in the category of Best Public-Private Partnership in Downtown was bestowed to Albemarle for the creation of the Pfeiffer University Center for Health Sciences.
The state-of-the-art center — located in Albemarle’s Five Points area at 245 E. Main Street — is a satellite campus of Pfeiffer that has brought more than 200 graduate students to downtown Albemarle throughout the past 19 months.
“We’re honored to be recognized for the role our city played in the success of the downtown Pfeiffer University Center for Health Sciences project,” Albemarle Mayor Ronnie Michael said in a city press release. “It took careful planning and strong teamwork to make that opportunity become a reality. I’m truly grateful for the incredible work of everyone who was involved.”
According to the NCDOC, the annual award that was given to Albemarle is designed to honor the success of NC Main Street communities in regard to the four points of the Main Street approach to downtown revitalization: economic vitality, design, promotion, and organization.
The City of Albemarle, Pfeiffer University, Stokes Construction, Little Diversified Architectural Consulting and Stanly County were the five central components of the Pfeiffer project creation, as listed by the state department’s website.
The $18 million project that spawned 26 new jobs has continued to factor into the Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation’s strategies for creating jobs, investments, and a younger age demographic for the downtown area. The correlated need for student housing has also led to two downtown residential projects — The Residences at the Albemarle Hotel and the Lowder Hardware residential rehabilitation project — that are projected to provide a combined 58 units.
Former Pfeiffer University President Dr. Colleen Keith initially brought the idea for placing a Center for Health Sciences campus within a downtown district after experiencing similar success at South Carolina’s Spartanburg Methodist College.
In order to finalize the initial plans for the center, the city worked out a land swap deal with Stanly County by agreeing to move the Stanly County History Center into the former City Hall Annex; that decision opened up the property for Pfeiffer’s campus planner to begin the construction groundbreaking in January 2019.
The first group of students began taking classes there in August 2020 with an educational focus on Master of Physician Assistant Studies and Master of Occupational Therapy programs. The facility currently contains the Center for Advanced Clinical Simulation Education, which includes four simulated ICU rooms supplied with a computerized human simulator, a surgical suite, an emergency department trauma bay, and a functional clinic with six exam rooms.