Grace University in Omaha says it is relocating 30 miles north to Blair, Neb., where it will take over a 30-acre section of the former Dana College campus.
The Omaha World-Herald reports that the move would be part of a proposed $92 million redevelopment of the 150-acre campus, according to plans presented to the Blair City Council. Grace would take over the bulk of vacant buildings at Dana.
The development of the campus, called the Frank and Jane Krejci Learning and Life Community, also would include a 60-bed skilled nursing facility, a new home for Christ Lutheran Church, a film studio for Digg Site Productions of Fremont and a 150-unit, intergenerational housing development. The housing portion would provide living space for low-income elderly, young people coming out of foster care, veterans and women who have completed Heartland Family Service’s Nebraska Family Works program.
Frank Krejci, a 91-year-old Omaha developer, bought the Dana campus in 2013 for $3.5 million. At that time, the campus was to house Midland University’s planned expansion from nearby Fremont. That fell through, and Krejci said he would be willing to donate the land if the right development came along, such as a civic use by the city or county.
The development proposal from Ed Shada, an Omaha banker who is founder and CEO of Project Homeless Connect Omaha, got Krejci’s attention, and he decided to donate the campus for Shada’s project.
“This was the best use of the property,” Krejci says. “It had no other use. Otherwise it was just another piece of land. I’m glad it’s happening.”
Video from Grace University: Students react
Grace officials announced in January that the Omaha Public Schools planned to purchase its campus and that university officials were seeking a new location. Grace had 370 students enrolled in January. The university plans to remain in Omaha through May 2018. Classes in Blair would begin the following fall.
Grace University President Bill Bauhard says he is excited to think about moving to the campus. Administrators are looking into expanding Grace’s course offerings, especially in sciences and mathematics.
Dana, a small, Lutheran liberal arts college, closed in 2010.
Since buying the campus, Krejci has fielded a number of inquiries for developing the shuttered campus, including transforming parts of it into apartments and restaurants, or restoring it to an institution of higher learning. The campus has served a number of purposes since the college closed, including being a refuge for people displaced by the Missouri River flooding in 2011.