Winthrop looking into ‘active adult’ learning community

Posted August 21, 2012 2:10 pm | Filed under Downtown Renewal, Local News

Traditional young adults may soon no longer be the only students residing on the Winthrop University campus. Winthrop and the City of Rock Hill are spearheading an effort to develop a new concept — a residential learning community for active seniors over the age of 55.

Both the city and Winthrop are now working on a market research survey to gauge interest in the concept.

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 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 ( 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 launch 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 or rentals.

“We have lots to learn from all ages,” he said. “Attracting folks to the campus with a broad range of backgrounds, education and experience will further enrich our 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 the area.”

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.”

DiGiorgio invited all interested parties to take the survey whether they receive an email or not, noting, “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 at this juncture in our history.”



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