By Ed Runyan
Eastern Gateway Community College will be moving its Warren Center this summer about a block and a half southwest into the Mickey’s Army and Navy store at the corner of Main Avenue and South Street in downtown Warren.
The president of the community college, Dr. Laura Meeks, made the announcement Thursday morning in front of Warren City Hall, saying the new location will have 20,000 square feet, which is nearly 10 times the amount at the current location in the Atrium Building on Courthouse Square.
The community college expects to double the number of students it serves by this time next year — from 100 to 200, she said.
The announcement also means Mickey’s Army and Navy, an “institution” of its own in Warren since 1948, will be closing late this summer and will begin a going-out-of-business sale next week, said its owner, Marty Cohen.
“It’s no secret we’re very happy to be in downtown Warren,” Meeks said, flanked by Mayor Doug Franklin and Cohen.
The Atrium Building served the community college’s needs since December 2010, but it has only about 3,000 square feet of space, enough for two classrooms and a couple of offices.
But by the start of fall classes Aug. 25, Eastern Gateway will have 10,000 square feet of classroom space, computer labs, tutoring and other student services on the Mickey’s Army and Navy first floor and another 10,000 square feet in the lower level.
Both levels are currently used by the store to sell surplus Army and Navy items, sports equipment and other goods.
The college and its business partner, Higher Education Partners-EGCC Ohio LLC, will install an elevator and invest between $5 million and $7 million in the building, Meeks said.
The community college currently offers general-education and remedial courses, as well as some paralegal and business classes.
“Once the expansion is completed, plans are to offer degree programs in associate of arts, associate of science, business management, education and patient home navigator,” according to a press release.
About 20 people will be employed, including five part-time staff and 20 adjunct instructors. The building has close to 60 parking spaces and is less than a block from the city’s Franklin Street parking deck, which Franklin said he expects to provide low-cost parking for some students and employees.
Meeks said it’s a bonus that the college’s new location will be in a building “that has been truly loved.”
Cohen said his store, which his father began at Pine and Franklin streets and moved in 1970 to its current location, will disappear from Warren sometime this summer, but the timing was right.
He’s ready to retire, and downtowns now serve government much more than storefront businesses, Cohen said.
“I sort of grew up in Marty’s store buying sports equipment and trying to play sports. Mickey’s Army-Navy is an institution,” Franklin said.
“We’re an institution, but we’re being replaced by an institution,” Cohen quipped.
The move will help Warren by providing higher education “at an affordable price” and by encouraging downtown development, Franklin said.
Dante Zambrini, EGCC’s interim vice president, said EGCC is likely to grow substantially once it has the room to provide additional programs.
“We actually didn’t recruit because we didn’t have the space. Now that we have the space, we’ll grow the [course] offerings,” Zambrini said.