Meharry Medical College Gets First New Building In Three Decades

by Chris Cannon, NewsChannel5

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Meharry Medical College in North Nashville is constructing the Turner Family Center, the college's first major construction project on the campus in 30 years.

For video story, click here.

Meharry saw a lot of growth on its campus three decades ago, but not much since then.

"There was a building boom in that period, from probably the early 70's to the late 70's, then it kind of stopped," said Bob Poole from Meharry Medical College.

Late last year the college broke ground on the Turner Family Center on 21st Avenue North.

"This building really is a symbol of coming together for the campus, where it will be a central meeting place for everyone," Poole said.

The three-story, 80,000 square foot building will house classroom space, an auditorium, a banquet hall, food court and administrative offices. It will cost $25 million to build.

Poole said the new construction signals progress on the campus.

"When people see those cranes going up, and just get an idea, wow these people are really on the move. Or when you see several projects going at once, it really means a lot. It means the college is really moving forward," Poole explained.

Student Jay-Sheree Allen has attended Meharry Medical College for the last two years.

"I think it's a really exciting time to be here right now," Allen said.

Allen said she has known about Meharry's excellence since she moved to Nashville. She feels the large-scale building project shows everyone else what is going on at the college.

"This is the thing you can see, but there are so many other things about Meharry that aren't as visible as buildings going up, so we're happy to add that aspect to it," Allen explained.

Allen will not be at the school for long after the Turner Family Center opens, but she knows the value it will have for many years.

"It'll be here for many alumni reunions to come, and I'm really happy future students are going to have this when they enter Meharry," according to Allen.

The Turner Family Center is just one of the major building projects taking place on the campus.

The school will demolish an apartment complex on Morena Street in May and replace the buildings with 100 modern apartments.

The school is also currently renovating Lyttle Hall on Dr. D.B. Todd Jr., Blvd.

Poole said all of this expansion will prepare Meharry for the future.

"We're going to grow our student body over the next few years, add new programs, have new people coming to the campus for research," Poole explained.

The Turner Family Center is named after Cal Turner, Jr., the former CEO of Dollar General. It is scheduled to on in July 2014.