Following speculation on the relocation of UCA Downtown, the university terminated its lease for the downtown space on March 31, 2023.
The 2500-square-foot facility, owned by Robert Adcock, acted as a home to the fine arts, technology and other community education and lifelong learning programs hosted by UCA, according to Vice President of Outreach and Community Engagement, Shaneil Ealy.
“UCA Downtown is a way to share UCA’s resources with the wider community. [It] has hosted hundreds of events, which included a very popular culinary education series, legislative panels, business networking groups, faculty symposiums, non-profit workshops, art exhibits, public meetings and more,” Ealy said.
Prior to the termination of the lease, Fredricka Sharkey, director of media relations at UCA, said, “If UCA Downtown was no longer in use, most, if not all, of those activities would be held on campus.” Sharkey said since much of the management and operation of the facility happened through Conference Services in the Division of Outreach and Community Engagement, positions within that division will not be impacted by changes made to UCA Downtown. The cost of the lease with First Real Estate Limited Partnership LLLP for this year was $32,804.16, Sharkey said.
“Currently, UCA Downtown is being used to host some classes from the Department of Nutrition and Family Sciences due to renovations in McAlister Hall. Classes will use the space until the end of the spring semester, and we have shuttle service to UCA Downtown specifically for those courses,” Sharkey said.
To sophomore FACS student, Maddie Gilleran, the space served as an impactful “oasis.”
“We were quite crowded in our kitchen back in McAlister, but we have dealt with a different lack of resources at the downtown classroom. It may be hard to use a bunch of hot plates and one oven downtown, but it makes the class so much more realistic.
“Taking away this space is definitely hard to hear. It may be cliche, but the vibes and atmosphere downtown drastically change the motivation and possibilities of our class,” Gilleran said.
With new, repurposed and reconstructed buildings popping-up across campus, the university has options to consider for the future of UCA Downtown, Sharkey said. “The Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts is a great example as it has the space for academic classes, as well as meetings, exhibits, concerts, plays, art shows, lectures and many other events.
“A decision will be made by President Houston Davis by the end of this fiscal year,” Sharkey said.
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