ROCK HILL, S.C. - It may not be long before history happens again at Winthrop University.

Spearheaded by Winthrop University and the City of Rock Hill’s Economic & Urban Development Department as part of a long-standing and on-going partnership, the two entities have undertaken a market research survey to gauge interest in a new-concept residential ‘community for active 55+ lifelong learners’ to be situated on or near the Winthrop campus.

Depending on the results of the survey being conducted this summer, history could be made as the Rock Hill / Winthrop area could become the home of the first university retirement community to be constructed since the recession began, and the very first active adult community in the U.S. to be so tightly integrated with an academic institution.

Partnering on initial market research with the University and the City is Campus Continuum (www.campuscontinuum.com) based in Brookline, Mass., which for over a decade has been consulting with college administrators and developers across the country to measure interest in 55+ campus-based communities.

Announcement of the survey was made by Winthrop University President Anthony J. DiGiorgio and by Stephen Turner, head of the city’s Economic & Urban Development Department.

President DiGiorgio, now in his 24th year as Winthrop’s President, emphasized that the project is in its earliest survey phase and no final decisions have been made regarding location, project size, number of units or even a name. The survey will also help determine if the units will be condos, entry fees or rentals.

He said, "We have lots to learn from all ages. Attracting folks to the campus with a broad range of backgrounds, education and experience will further enrich our already wonderful campus community. It’s exciting to imagine how adding scores of lifelong learners to our campus will bring a new brand of enthusiasm for learning and eagerness to share their own years of real life experience and insights. It’s an inter-generational win-win.”

Rock Hill’s Stephen Turner said, “In addition to the construction and full-time jobs this will create, I think an active 55+ residential community will be an important catalyst for further development, and can pave the way as we attract other commercial and residential projects to Old Town.”

Gerard Badler of Campus Continuum notes, “The high degree of collaboration among the University, the City and ourselves is pioneering, exciting and very positive. If local survey results match the interest we found during scores of local interviews, and in surveys in other parts of the country, we can be enthusiastic about the prospects for Winthrop.” Being based in Boston, we were delighted to see that it was a grant from Boston philanthropist Robert Charles Winthrop, Chairman of the Peabody Education Board, that helped launch the University over 125 years ago.”

Winthrop University faculty and staff, alumni and anyone interested in this project can take the survey at http://www.surveysoftware.net/hostwu/Campus_Continuum.htm. President DiGiorgio and Stephen Turner invited all interested parties to take the survey whether they receive an email or not. “Once we have a handle on the level and type of interest, we’ll have a better idea on the size and location of the development parcel, and we’ll be able to begin initial discussions with real estate developers. This is an exciting option for Winthrop and juncture in our history.”

Founded in 1886, Winthrop is a public, coeducational, liberal arts university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees to about 6,000 students. Winthrop, committed to deepening students’ capacity to live, learn and lead for a lifetime calls itself ‘South Carolina’s distinctive public comprehensive university.’ In national rankings, the school is regularly listed as one of the best values in higher education.

The city of Rock Hill, (www.cityofrockhill.com) with a population of 66,000, is the fourth largest city in South Carolina. Together with Winthrop and private investors, the City is pursuing the redevelopment of Old Town, once a major center for textile manufacturing, into a center for knowledge economy jobs, businesses and lifestyles. Rock Hill, nicknamed ‘The Gateway to South Carolina,’ is in the northeast corner of the state, 25 miles south of Charlotte, N.C. , and is one of the fastest growing communities in the Charlotte metropolitan area.

Campus Continuum (www.campuscontinuum.com) consults with colleges and developers on planning, marketing and operating 55+ active adult communities that are tightly integrated with academic host institutions.

Source: Winthrop University

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