PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg State University is seeking to expand the school’s business program with a new building downtown and the redevelopment of an iconic Pittsburg structure.

‘Pittsburg: Gorilla Rising’, as the university calls it, aims to bring the new forefront of the school’s Kelce College of Business to downtown Pittsburg by 2026. PSU said they’re working with local business leaders and the city as a whole to make the plan come alive.

First, a new building (below) designated for 5th & Broadway will act as the keystone anchor of the initiative. That planned lot is currently leased by BMO Harris Bank.

Along with the new KCOB building, the Colonial Fox Theatre will share a space with the college in an already planned two-story pavilion that will expand on the theatre’s lobby. This will be constructed on the empty lot owned by the Fox between the two buildings, the university said.

The KCOB portion of the project is expected to cost approximately $34 million; $7 million of which is already covered thanks to donors.

When this new building is complete, the Business and Economic Research Center and the Professional Sales Center will move to it. 

Finally, the historic Besse Hotel (the tallest building in SE Kansas) will receive a facelift as part of the plan (below). An extra 60 to 70 additional student housing beds will be added here beyond the first and second floors, according to Pitt State Chief Strategy Officer Shawn Naccarato.

This part of the project is estimated to cost around $16 million.

An additional $12.5 million from the Kansas Department of Commerce earned via University Challenge Grant Program will bolster the project’s funds.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved the plan concept and it received endorsement by faculty and KCOB Dean, Paul Grimes. Design development is slated for this spring, with construction set for 2024.

“By moving downtown, we are embracing our micropolitan mission, which will provide us with new opportunities to engage with the Pittsburg business community on a more intimate level,” said KCOB Dean Paul Grimes. “It will provide us with creative new avenues for expanding our programs and curricular initiatives, including internship options with local businesses and living-learning communities in the expanded student housing options within the district.” 

As for the current KCOB building, the university plans to maintain lower-level business classes there. However, students that are admitted to the business program will take their specialized classes at the downtown location; as will those in graduate programs.

“This is the next phase of us building off the success of Block22 — a true educational enterprise district that drives the development and prosperity of this community and beyond,” Naccarato said.