University of South Florida students are saying goodbye to the Andros housing complex and saying hello to "The Village."
University officials unveiled the name of the estimated $133 million housing development at an event Thursday, along with the names of the five planned residence halls.
Once completed, the halls - dubbed Beacon, Endeavor, Horizon, Pinnacle and Summit - will have beds for about 2,000 students. That's about 1,000 more than currently are on campus. It also increases the total number of beds on the Tampa campus to almost 6,500.
"It's a theme of reaching the top and that's what USF is all about," USF System President Judy Genshaft said. "They're different names than we've had for other residence halls and it's so symbolic of what we're going to be doing in The Village."
The Village will include a dining facility called "The Hub," a fitness center and outdoor pool named "The Fit," and retail spaces, including the state's first Publix grocery store on a college campus.
Genshaft added that it's important for The Village to offer more than just a place for students to sleep.
"It makes living on campus fun, exciting," she said. "We want students to connect with one another and to belong, to be a part of the student experience."
"This is about far more than steel beams and concrete moving into place to form stunning new residence halls. It's about reinforcing the foundation of student success at USF for generations to come," Genshaft said.
"This is an outstanding milestone and testament, and a commitment to our students," USF Board of Trustees Chair Brian Lamb said. "That's why we're here, that's what this is about: after all the bricks and mortar and all the celebrations, fundamentally, this is about our students."
The Village is being funded through a public-private partnership (P3) between USF and developer Capstone-Harrison Street. It's the largest P3 in the history of the State University System and the largest housing project ever approved by the Florida Board of Governors.
"This would not have been a possibility given the (economic) times that we've gone through," Genshaft said. "It wouldn't have been possible for us to do this without a private partner, and it's very exciting this was the largest (partnership) Capstone has done as well."
Under terms of the agreement, Capstone-Harrison Street will be responsible for financing, building and operating The Village. In return, it will receive the rent from the students. USF will lease the land to Capstone-Harrison and receive $317 million over 52 years.
Four of the halls in the Andros complex have already been demolished. The remaining five will begin being taken down in May 2017. The complex dates back to the 1960's.
The first two new halls, along with the dining facility and fitness center, are scheduled to open next fall; the final three halls in fall of 2018.
"I go by it every day - morning and evening," Genshaft said. "The whole Village is coming into shape and it's thrilling, I'm very proud."