Alabama A&M may soon tear down old buildings

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Leaders at Alabama A&M University say several buildings on campus are in rough shape. Some of them have been boarded up and unused for years.

School leaders told alumni on Wednesday evening there's no saving some of the old buildings.

"I drove from Atlanta this afternoon," AAMU alumni Keshia Appkins was one of several Bulldog alumni back on the Alabama A&M campus to hear the news.

"I lived in Thigpen and I was right by the dining center and I loved the breakfast there," Appkins said.

But nobody's chowing down at the old Prentice Dining Hall.

Facilities director Brian Shipp gave a failing grade to that and five other buildings, including Buchanan, Walker Wood and Hurt Hall, each of them needing millions of dollars in repair.

"It's never fun delivering news like this, but it's part of the job," Alabama A&M facilities director Brian Shipp said.

"Because of neglect and the need for funding, so it is a bit of doom and gloom," Appkins said.

Some of the buildings are within the college's historic district. At least six of them are boarded up, the peeling paint, mold and buckling floors aren't visible to young men and women walking by.

"I'm a little biased. They could be considered eyesores, but because there are so many fond memories there, I don't know that they'd ever be eyesores to me," Appkins said.

Facilities director Brian Shipp said the six buildings he mentioned in the presentation will likely be torn down. It could happen in the next two years. There was some positive news from the meeting. Two buildings appear to be spared demolition, Hillcrest and Grayson, that's one of the oldest residence halls built at A&M.

"It could have multiple uses," Shipp said. "Anything from a residence hall as it was previously, to a small event or student center."

Shipp said it'd cost over $30 million to repair the old buildings. He says 80 percent of A&M's money comes from its 6,000 students. Of those, around 90 percent receive scholarships.

Several alumni were concerned about demolition affecting the school's place on the historic register.

School leaders say for that to happen, they'd have to take themselves off the list.

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