Roanoke Higher Education Center undergoes $8 million renovation - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke Higher Education Center undergoes $8 million renovation

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The state is paying nearly eight million dollars to renovate one of Roanoke’s most historic buildings.

Roanoke Higher Education Center began its 18-month long renovation in October

Executive Director Tom McKeon says the structure is an important part of the area’s history as well as local student’s future.

"It’s an iconic building for Roanoke,” McKeon said.

 “It represents the rail age for people so it was important to us and the city for us to preserve it and put it to good use."

That good use is housing more than 200 courses for 16 partner organizations like Radford University and Virginia tech.

Each year thousands of students can earn degrees from all over Virginia, right here in Roanoke.

The art-deco building was built in 1931. It was once part of Norfolk Southern’s railway corporate headquarters. Norfolk southern donated this building to the Roanoke foundation for downtown  in 1993 and was then transformed into the higher education center that we see today.

But the 83 year old art deco building is struggling with the test of time.

"Over the years it's continued to wear and we have had a serious problem with  a water intrusion and leaks of water in the building," McKeon said.

 Now renovation is well underway with scaffolding lining all eight floors of the building. Crews are working to replace outdated windows, masonry and make roof repairs, all while preserving the historic features of the building. One side street will be closed during construction. Special arrangements have been made, however, to not disturb ongoing classes.

" We've done things like moving construction to a different part of the building when exams are going. We have moved some of our members temporarily away from areas of the construction," McKeon said.

A minor inconvenience that McKeon says will ensure students a much longer future in this building.

"Our projections are once we do these repairs we will get at least another fifty years out of the building."

A project that will ensure this historic building will strive in the twenty first century, along with the thousands of students who are pursuing their degree.

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