Fayetteville State University Chancellor Darrell T. Allison was full of surprises Thursday morning: new retail outlets, a new home for the chamber of commerce, and a new name for its business center to reflect its growing role as a business hub.
At a news conference held across from campus at Bronco Square, Allison said a Chick-fil-A restaurant will open as part of efforts to revitalize the business center, which the university purchased in 2021 for $5 million. It had previously owned half of the property.
The center is at the corner of Filter Plant Drive and Murchison Road.
Later, the chairwoman of the chamber of commerce said that it will open its headquarters in the same business center.
Allison also announced that a Starbucks coffee shop will open on the FSU campus.
And the chancellor had more: university officials recently voted to rename Bronco Square as Bronco Midtown.
The announcements came just weeks after the Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur and Business HUB opened in Bronco Square “as a symbol of FSU’s economic leadership and commitment to the community,” according to a news release.
“That hub has been humming,” Allison said Thursday.
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But the announcements would not end there on this special occasion for his school.
The Chick-fil-A and Starbucks locations will open in late 2023 or early 2024, Allison said.
The chancellor told about 80 people in attendance that the university now owns the entire block from Filter Plant Drive to Coley Drive.
“Boy, we’re cooking. We’re cooking,” Allison said to some laughs.
“As a leader, you want to take full advantage of those windows of opportunity before they close,” Allison said. “It’s not lost on me that when I arrived, the City Council not only had plans, but they had the revitalization plans for this city. It wasn’t lost on me that county commissioners were (working) with the same thing — very collaboratively with the council. It wasn’t lost upon me that our elected city (legislative) delegation — both Democrats and Republicans — they decided to do what most of America at that time chose not to do.
“They still held true to their political affiliations, but while they were at the General Assembly, they went to work,” he continued. “They put Fayetteville and Cumberland first. And it yielded historic levels of funding for this area.”
City officials joined in to celebrate the announcements.
“What a great day to be not just the mayor but a Bronco. I’m just overjoyed,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said. “Thank you, chancellor. Thank you for your vision. You know, it’s amazing to see the investment and the growth of Fayetteville State University. Within this block — and it’s the Bronco block — right across the street, the city of Fayetteville with a collaborative effort with the county and the state are investing nearly $20 million — $9 million to a new senior center, nearly $20 million in this corridor.
“Years and years of investment, resources have been redirected. The day has finally arrived that this area, this community, is put first, not only with our passion and our words but with our dollars, our commitment,” Colvin continued. “Fayetteville State is truly establishing, cementing its position as an economic engine and partner in the Murchison Road corridor and beyond.”
Colvin added that the City Council has received a request to change the name of Filter Plant Drive to Bronco Village Drive “just to show the significance and presence of this great institution.”
Like the chancellor before him, Colvin thanked former FSU Chancellor Willis McLeod for his vision to invest in the property and generate revenue for the university and its students.
The history of the development dates back decades to when McLeod and Fayetteville businessman J. Gary Ciccone partnered and “had a spark," Allison said.
“So, before we talk about new and what’s coming, I just want to make sure that we took a little time for these two young men to stand and for you all to give proper honor for appreciation for your visionary work,” Allison said.
Chamber of commerce Chairwoman Tammy Thurman made the announcement on the business group’s move. The chamber has been headquartered at an office building on Ray Avenue.
“We are ecstatic and excited to announce that Bronco Midtown will now be the permanent home of the (chamber),” she said to applause.
“Exciting times,” Allison added,
Jack Donovan, president of Aramark Collegiate Hospitality, said he is excited that his company is part of FSU’s vision.
“We do small things, but they impact lives in a big way,” Donovan said. “We think it’s going to be a great center of excitement, a center of connection, a place that will help the whole community.”
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org