The West Virginia Department of Administration officially transferred the former West Virginia Rehabilitation Center in Institute to West Virginia State University June 17.
The nearly 20 acres of property adjacent to WVSU contains 15 buildings and more than 430,000 square feet of space. The property has been unused since March 2011.
"Academic growth, especially in the areas of science, nursing and technology is driving the need for expansion of the campus of West Virginia State," WVSU President Brian O. Hemphill said in a news release. "We truly appreciate Gov. (Earl Ray) Tomblin's support of the progress we anticipate for West Virginia State and our need to expand our physical footprint in Institute.
"The former West Virginia Rehabilitation Center is ideal to accommodate the university's growth, which will in turn aid the overall economic growth of the state and region."
The center previously provided on-site vocational and rehabilitation services to people with disabilities. In 2007, client services were stopped at the site, but the Division of Rehabilitation Services continued to use the center as the central hub for the agency until 2011.
The comprehensive plan for the property is still being developed, but the initial efforts will focus on renovating and opening the former administration building at the complex, which has been known as the F. Ray Power building.
That building contains more than 31,000 square feet of offices and conference rooms. The property contains several other buildings that formerly housed offices, a cafeteria and residential space. Those buildings will stay closed until a comprehensive evaluation of their potential uses can be done.
"The potential academic and economic development opportunities of repurposing the former Rehabilitation Center property are significant," Hemphill said. "WVSU is committed to developing a long-term strategy to support this expansion."