Community leaders in Abilene met with officials in the ACU Endowment Office last week to discuss the possibility of developing the northeast side of Abilene.
ACU owns a lot of the land sitting over there. About 600 acres of land actually. While it is just waiting there patiently to be developed, building a bunch of suburbs seems peculiar for a university to take on.
We think this is an unique alternative in a day and age where many universities are experiencing tight budgets and grasping for new sources of revenue. But like any big undertaking, there will be some consequences.
For one, the rift between the upper and lower class could grow, and parts of the central and south sides of town will seem even more poverty-stricken than they already are.
The city would put money into the north side to build it up while the rest will remain in its current state.
Other issues that would ensue might include, but are not limited to: construction, increased traffic, construction, poor investment of endowment money and construction.
Though only temporary, many have been inconvenienced with the Vision in Action initiative and all the construction that has come along with it. If more construction is added, there’s a possibility that more inconveniences outside of campus will come with it, and that could be a big turnoff for potential students.
Yet it may be only a temporary turnoff, because there is one positive consequence that just may make every negative one worth it: CHIPOTLE.
Okay, so we have no way of knowing whether all these new development means Abilene will finally get a Chipotle, but new restaurants and amenities near ACU would address some of the most common complaints by students. Especially ending the classic freshman year adjustment to Sharky’s.
Plain and simple, Abilene is not a college town, despite having three universities. While Chipotle is just one idea we’re throwing out, it represents the greater possibility of new businesses that could make this city more student-friendly.
Even Dr. Royce Money, former president and chancellor of the university, agrees that those 600 acres are a prime location for families and businesses to occupy.
“When you start looking at the amenities, you’re a quarter mile from the interstate, but far enough to not have any noise,” Money said. “You’re five minutes away from the airport, you’re five minutes away from downtown, the cultural stuff. You’re five minutes away from all the stuff on 351 out there (such as) Walmart and Lowe’s.”
Growth is inevitable, and ACU already has limited resources because of ongoing construction projects. There’s a lot of give and take with the addition of new housing developments, but in the end, it just might be worth putting up with.