Resident dreams of a college

By ROBERT LINNEHAN

Another plan for the Bancroft property has come to light as several residents have signed onto an idea that would bring a college into Haddonfield.

Christian Strasser, a resident of the borough, said he conceived the idea when he heard several years ago that Duke University was exploring the possibility of building a campus in Somerville.

While the rumor proved to be untrue, Strasser said it made sense for a community like Haddonfield to take steps to become the “Princeton of South Jersey.”

Strasser envisioned a scenario in which Drexel University would partner with Haddonfield in purchasing the property and constructing a college on the 19-acre property.

Drexel already partners with Haddonfield Memorial High School in several educational ventures, he said, and the space is available.

“I’ve really played with the idea for a few years. I put together enough information and enough background where I think this could be a possibility,” Strasser said.

Most importantly, the plan would not add more students to the already crowded Haddonfield school system, he said.

Additionally, a deal could be worked out for the university to share facilities with nearby HMHS.

He submitted his idea to the commissioners after he heard that the redevelopment plan for the property had been pulled off the table.

The initial proposal is planned for 2,400 full-time students and 600 part-time students with four identical dormitories on the property.

A cafeteria, lab facility, lecture hall, student center, and gymnasium would fill out the property. Add in two parking garages, a performing arts center, tennis courts, and three campus offices and the college would take up almost all of the 19-acre property, according to the report.

Taking into account estimates on tuition, room and board costs, Strasser said the college could annually take in about $102 million a year.

Costs, including salaries for employees, he reported, could be in the neighborhood of $92.5 million.

Thus, the college and Haddonfield would have to share about $9.5 million each year if the numbers hold at their estimates, he reported.

The numbers are all estimates, Strasser said, but the report has garnered some support in Haddonfield.

Several residents officially endorsed the plan and signed a letter that Strasser crafted and sent to borough commissioners.

The cost to purchase the land, demolish the existing buildings, and construct the university would be high, he said.

Several of the existing buildings could be sold though, he said, and funding sources through the state and county could be explored.

It’s an interesting proposal to think about, Strasser said, and one that he would like to see the commissioners explore.

“Everyone who has commented on the project to me seems to be positive,” he said.

“The floor is wide open right now.”

To view Strasser’s project in full click here.