One Vision ~ One Purpose Capital Campaign
On April 27, 2011, at approximately 5:00 PM CDT, a severe thunderstorm producing straight-line winds and several tornadoes, including a Category EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, tore through the City of Tuscaloosa running from west to east, damaging areas including Alberta, a community located in the eastern most portion of the city limits, along with a number of other neighborhoods and housing complexes. These storms claimed the lives of 53 residents in the City of Tuscaloosa. The EF-4 tornado devastated the areas in its 1 and ½ miles wide and 6 miles long pathway generating debris from the destruction that threatened lives, health and public safety. The following day, April 28, 2011, the President of the United States declared a Major Federal Disaster for all Alabama Counties including the City of Tuscaloosa in Tuscaloosa County and visited the Alberta Community and the College Hill Missionary Baptist Church property on April 29, 2011.
Much of the development in the Alberta area pre-dates the interstate system. Commercial properties in the area consist mainly of strip development with older commercial centers and stand-alone business with individual access points. A majority of the land in the Alberta community is devoted to older single family residential development, much of it built at least 60 years ago, located on small lots lacking sidewalks or curbs and gutters. There were a scattering of aging and deteriorated multi-family complexes pre-storm. This most eastern area of the tornado’s destructive path is where the storm grew to its most massive size within the City limits. It ran through the heart of this community destroying or severely damaging a number of neighborhoods as well as many of Alberta’s commercial businesses along University Boulevard. The destruction in this area displaced a large segment of lower income families living in smaller 60+ year old rental housing and older apartments. According to a HUD report on Unmet Housing Need in Alabama due to 2011 Federally Declared Disasters, the City of Tuscaloosa had 1,066 rental housing units that were damaged by the April 2011 tornado and still had an unmet housing need after all forms of assistance had been expended. More than 41% of these rental units resided in the Alberta community. Alberta also experienced the greatest loss in public facilities: Alberta Elementary School, Fire Station 4, the East Police Precinct, and the Police Athletic League building. According to the City’s 2010 census tract data, the median household income for this area was $20,889.
The Alberta community represents an area of the City with a high percentage of very low income rental housing, especially in neighborhoods made up of single-family detached housing, a lot of which was either damaged or destroyed by the storm. In order to augment the housing plan that the City has developed for Alberta, the City approved a large-scale infrastructure project that incorporates the Citywalk. It has been well documented that the entire Alberta community needs a central area of rebuilding and rebirth to spur future development. The City of Tuscaloosa plans to use their Disaster Recovery Grant allocation to help rebuild community facilities and the commercial sector along University Boulevard, as well as re-establish linkages between residents and the government/commercial facilities in a walk-able community. The City of Tuscaloosa allocated $3,950,000.00 or 23.75% of their CDBG DR Funding Allocation to the Alberta Revitalization Infrastructure Project that is located in front of the proposed College Hill Campus. The Citywalk route will extend along the South side of the proposed Alberta Parkway (now 7th Street East) and continue until reaching the new site of Alberta Elementary School, where it will branch to the North and South entrances of the school. Within this infrastructure project, the parameters of 7th Street East will be widened and a landscaped median will be installed. Heading West, away from the school, this project will terminate at the site of Jaycee Park. The College Hill Campus will extend along the North side of the Alberta Parkway between 23rd Avenue and 24th Avenue.
Prior to April 27, 2011, College Hill was a major entity in the Alberta Community. Founded in 1981 by Reverend Sylvester Croom, Sr., College Hill has grown from a small church of only 22 founding members to a young and progressive growing church membership serving the Alberta Community in Tuscaloosa with no restrictions on race, creed or church affiliation. College Hill was organized to save lost souls while maintaining a place of worship where love, peace, and happiness abides. Reverend Sylvester Croom was an All-American football player at Alabama A & M and following racial integration, served as chaplain for the University’s athletes under the leadership of Coaches Paul Bryant, Ray Perkins and Bill Curry. For over three decades, College Hill has served as a place of worship and refuge for countless athletes from the University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College.
In early spring of 2011 the College Hill congregation was completing plans to expand their facilities, when the EF4 tornado struck and destroyed College Hill on April 27, 2011. Now instead of the planned expansion, the church is faced with totally rebuilding in 2015. Even after such devastation, College Hill continues to be a vibrant congregation making an impact in the Alberta community through outreach ministries. Under the leadership of the senior pastor Dr. Kelvin W. Croom, the congregation has developed a plan to rebuild a campus that will serve the community as a place of fellowship and refuge should the community be faced with crises in the future. The total church campus as designed will be nearly 30,000 sq. ft. of finished space and can be built in two phases. If construction can begin during the dry weather months, it is projected that site work to completion could be 14 months. College Hill has worked closely with the City to ensure that the two phase construction of the College Hill campus works hand in hand with the new Alberta Parkway. This project will also incorporate the burying of utility lines and provide for much needed upgrades in drainage and sewer improvements for the residents of this area. The City hopes that the College Hill $9,000,000 construction project in conjunction with the City’s $3,950,000 Alberta Parkway Infrastructure Project, Homebuyer/Down Payment Assistance Program, the Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa/Juanita Drive project (both funded by the Disaster Recovery Grant), a newly built Alberta Elementary School, East Police Precinct, Fire Station #4, the realignment of 25th Avenue East and the newly improved and modified Jaycee Park will all help spur the re-development of the Alberta community to the North of University Boulevard.
This City’s infrastructure project, along with the College Hill Church campus will not only provides a safe and beautiful centralized boulevard, but it also will engrain a feeling of pride and community to this area, making the houses that are being built feel more like homes than just structures. A feeling of community is built through more than just buildings. It comes from a synergy of homeowners/neighbors that help each other, that provide a healthy environment for children to learn and play, and for business owners to give back to their customers. With this large investment in the Alberta Community, it will become an enjoyable place to live, work and play. It is believed that the Alberta Parkway and the College Hill Campus with all of its amenities will be the catalyst for that synergy in the Alberta Community.
Returning home to the middle of a recovering area provides us with the opportunity to continue to assist with recovery now and for future disasters. The College Hill campus will once again be afforded the opportunity to offer outreach programs in the Alberta Community. For over three decades, College Hill has served as a place of worship, training and refuge for countless people in the Alberta Community. Returning to an area of need with a Life Skills Center provides us with the opportunity to continue to assist with recovery now and for future disasters. With eight (8) classrooms, three (3) study rooms, a small conference room, small kitchenette, one large community room with stage and a commercial sized kitchen, the College Hill Life Skills Center will help community members with a job training center and a serve as a minority business incubator and so much more!
The College Hill Life Skills Center will provide access to a safe-haven after school program for 13 to 17, health and nutrition classes, parenting classes, financial skills classes, music education classes, computer classes and classes to enhance job-seeking skills. The community will be afforded new opportunities to prosper in the future. College Hill’s goals remain to feed the hungry, provide youth and adult literacy program, provide job training in a computer lab, facilitate a jobs locator/referral program, assist recovering vets by providing access to temporary housing, help teen mothers and fathers with developing parenting skills, and to continue helping Alberta Elementary School students through our Project 180 program. Being in the mist of the recovering area before and after April 27, 2011 makes College Hill uniquely qualified to help with Alberta recovery, as well as, surrounding communities like the Holt Community.
In addition to those educational components, we also have access to social workers who are trained to be there during a crisis. This could be somebody losing their job, having kids struggle with school, domestic violence - whatever the need is, College Hill can direct the community to trained professionals. Senior education is also another program that we will have in our center during the day. Often times, we're working with seniors who are now isolated because nobody's able to really talk to them. This program will allow seniors to interact with each other through activities designed just for them. Another emphasis of our life skills training program focuses on veteran’s re-entry to the community. Whether it is assisting with locating a place to sleep or assisting with job skills training, our team works very closely with the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center to direct our veterans to the appropriate agencies providing them with help needed. Needless to say, College Hill is vitally needed in the Alberta Community.
Why Help Us Rebuild College Hill In Alberta?
Since the devastating evening of April 27, 2011, the College Hill family has worked hard to stay together and proudly stands over 300 members strong. There was never a question that the Church would rebuild back at its previous location. Our founding pastor was led by God in 1981 to locate our church in Alberta and it is imperative that his vision of prosperity for this community continue. Reverend Sylvester Croom, Sr. had no idea the destiny of our location at the time of its founding. Following the tornado, the City of Tuscaloosa heard the community and funded the new four lane Alberta Parkway that will replace the current two-lane 7th Street East in 2016. Building a $9 million campus in the heart of Alberta on the newly designed Alberta Parkway will spur both much needed residential and commercial growth. Now some 3½ years later, support is at an all-time high to rebuild and revive the strong presence that College Hill once had in the Alberta area. Please help our efforts, One Vision…One Purpose!
What Will The New College Hill Look Like?
The re-designed campus located on the original sacred ground, will feature four main structures that, if necessary, can be built in three (3) phases as follows:
Phase I: The Temporary Worship Center will feature a brick paver entrance, two (2) offices, two (2) conference rooms, small kitchenette and a great room large enough to seat 120 in worship style or 100 in banquet style. Estimated construction cost for Phase I: $700,000
Phase II: The Life Skills Center with its Great Hall of heavy timber trusses will feature eight (8) classrooms, three (3) computer study rooms, a conference room, small kitchenette, large meeting room and a commercial sized kitchen. This 14,000 sq. ft. building is designed for the church family and community featuring internal safe rooms located throughout the structure. Once constructed, the Life Skills Center will provide home to many activities for youth, adults, veterans and senior citizens. The Life Skills Center will provide community members with much needed job skills and work force development training. It will also serve as a safe haven for students after school ages 13 to 17 by providing health and nutrition classes, parenting classes, financial skills classes, music education classes, computer classes and classes to enhance job seeking skills. If the people of Tuscaloosa need help again, College Hill will be ready to assist them. Estimated construction cost for Phase II: $5.7 million.
Phase III. The 14,000 sq. ft. four gabled Worship Center with its graceful Tudor arches will feature a 500 seat sanctuary. With pews spaced on a radius around the pulpit, the design causes God’s people to gather like a family for prayer and worship. No doubt, many young engaged couples will come and ask to spend their most holy and special day at College Hill. The building’s three large entry areas will echo the College Hill family in inviting all people from everywhere to come. Also, Phase II includes the proposed Croom-Bryant Prayer Tower named for Reverend Sylvester Croom and Coach Paul W. Bryant. The Croom-Bryant Prayer Tower will connect the community to the past and remind them to look up. Centered in the courtyard between the two buildings, the small prayer room can be left open at special times in the life of the church and the community. Estimated construction cost for Phase III: $3.3 million.
The total campus is estimated at nearly 34,000 sq. ft. of finished space. The new development with parking, furniture and equipment is estimated to cost approximately $9 million. If construction can begin during the dry weather months, it is anticipated that site work to completion could be 14 months.
"One Vision…One Purpose” Capital Campaign
The founding pastor was led by God in 1981 to locate the Church in Alberta and it is imperative that his vision of prosperity for this community continue. Reverend Sylvester Croom, Sr. had no idea the destiny of the chosen location at the time of its founding. Following the tornado, the City of Tuscaloosa heard the requests of the community and funded a four lane Alberta Parkway that will replace the current two-lane 7th Street East in 2016. Building the $9 million church campus in the heart of Alberta on the newly designed Alberta Parkway will spur both much needed residential and commercial growth, as well as further connect the City Walk to the heart of Alberta. Now some 5 years later, support is at an all-time high to rebuild and revive the strong presence that College Hill once had in the Alberta area. The One Vision…One Purpose Capital Campaign was designed to raise much needed capital to rebuild the Church. Letters of support from various important leaders such as Mayor Walt Maddox and District 4 Councilor Kip Tyner have been received to further validate the need for College Hill’s rebuilding in Alberta City in conjunction with the City’s investment.
Since April 27, 2011, College Hill has raised/secured over $800,000 toward the construction of the College Hill Life Skills Center in Alberta. The Church used proceeds from insurance and donations received from people all over the world to purchase land and place the church in a “build ready” position.
To date, proceeds have been spent mostly on the following:
Purchased five (5) additional land parcels from contiguous land owners
Received the consent to vacate of a public street in the City of Tuscaloosa
Survey and topo of site and Soil report
ADEM NPDES Permit Number ALR10AJ64
City of Tuscaloosa Land Development Permit
Completed site plans and details with preliminary estimates of costs for various units of construction
Complete landscape design
Construction feasibility study
College Hill Senior Pastor, Dr. Kelvin W. Croom received his post-secondary education from the University of Alabama. He is a former administrator with the Tuscaloosa City School System. Prior to retirement, Dr. Croom was the Assistant Principal at Paul W. Bryant High School which educated students from the Alberta Community. Currently a Curriculum Specialist with the Tuscaloosa City Schools, College Hill Trustee, Dr. Teresha Jones has developed a curriculum for all areas of the Life Skills Center. College Hill Finance Director Tracy Croom possesses 30 years of public accounting experience with the City of Tuscaloosa and will oversee all financial aspects of the construction and life skills program. Managing Attorney at Legal Services Alabama, Atty. Willie Mays Jones has been a member of College Hill for over 30 years and will review all legal documents for the Life Skills Center. Resumes for all four can be provided as needed. In regard to attracting investments, the Croom family is highly recognized nationwide. Dr. Croom's brother is Dea. Sylvester Croom, Jr., the first African-American Head Football Coach hired in the Southeastern Conference at Mississippi State University.
The College Hill Trustees have retained an excellent construction project team to guide them through the first construction phase. Team members are as follows:
Walker & Associates
College Hill has established a goal for the inclusion of minority and disadvantaged business enterprises for all services required during the construction phases. Also, hired contractors must demonstrate a good faith effort to attain the desired percentage goal through the use of hired sub-contractors. Currently, all construction costs in this document are speculative, but based on current estimated construction per square foot costs.
Financing Plan and Construction Timeline
It is important to note that each phase of construction can stand alone. It is highly recommended that the reconstruction of College Hill coincide with the City of Tuscaloosa’s construction of the new Alberta Parkway. This planned four-lane parkway will run east and west in front of College Hill. It is estimated that the City’s contractors will begin construction on the Parkway in May 2015, with the completion anticipated in late December 2015. By paralleling constructions, College Hill could save hundreds of thousands of dollars on infrastructure improvements and landscaping on the right of way with contractors already on site for the City.
College Hill’s IRS 501(c)(3) designation, Certificate of Incorporation and adopted By-Laws are available upon request. College Hill received a public charity status on March 3, 1982.