D190616 wells fargo

The Alabama Community College System is purchasing the former Wells Fargo building at Moulton Street and Fourth Avenue Southeast, seen Friday, for distance learning courses. [JERONIMO NISA/DECATUR DAILY]

The Alabama Community College System is purchasing the former Wells Fargo Bank building at Moulton Street and Fourth Avenue Southeast as a center for distance learning, said state Sen. Arthur Orr.

The state has the 19,413-square-foot building at 254 E. Moulton St. under contract for $800,000, a price the ACCS board agreed to earlier this month. Birmingham-based Southpace Properties had the building listed for $899,000, which was a reduction from the original $1.1 million asking price.

“The vision of the Community College System is to greatly increase its distance learning course offerings across the state, nation and the world,” Orr said.

The center will not be part of Calhoun Community College or the Alabama Center for the Arts but will be administered by the ACCS, according to Orr.

Calhoun interim President Joe Burke said Chris Alexander, a former distance learning director at Calhoun who is now working for the state, will likely lead the new center in Decatur.

Burke said the new center will feature classes for instructors to earn their “Quality Matters” national certification. This certification focuses on providing quality online classes.

Orr said one reason a site in Decatur was selected is the state wanted access to potential instructors at Calhoun, which is Alabama’s largest community college, and at nearby universities.

“Distance learning is an emerging field, and our state Community College System does it well,” Orr said. “Our system is definitely able to offer it at a lower cost.”

The state also plans to do some industrial training in the former bank, Orr said.

Mayor Tab Bowling called the purchase “wonderful news for the city, especially the Fourth Avenue area.”

He pointed out that this area recently had the Cook Museum of Natural Science open and renovations begin to make the former Central Baptist Church into office space and an event center.

“The Fourth Avenue area keeps growing, and we believe there’s more to come,” Bowling said. “You’ll see the skyline change in downtown as people come off Sixth Avenue.”

bayne.hughes@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.

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