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USF Trustees Approve New Student Housing Village

Mark Schreiner
WUSF 89.7 News

The University of South Florida is a step closer to tearing down a fifty-year-old student housing complex on its Tampa campus and replacing it with a 'village' that would be home to 2,165 students.

At USF Board meeting in St. Petersburg Thursday, trustees approved a public-private partnership agreement, also known as a 3P, with Capstone Development Partners and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital to build the estimated $133 million complex.

USF Chief Operating Officer John Long says such an arrangement allows the school to replace the aging Andros complex on an accelerated timetable.

"What we've been able to leverage out of this project: 2,100 plus beds, a stand-alone dining facility, a stand-alone recreation center, a gym, a pool complex and road enhancements; for us to do that, to go out and bond it and find a source for debt capacity, we're looking at fifteen to twenty years," Long told trustees.

A number of Florida universities have struck similar deals to build student housing, including Florida Polytechnic.

"It's important because at this point in time, we don't have the resources to be able to fund all of it ourselves," USF System President Judy Genshaft said. "But through a partnership, we work together - they (Capstone-Harrison Street) can fund it, we can pay them back over time."

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The Andros student housing complex on USF's Tampa campus is slated to be replaced with a private-public financed student housing village.

If the Florida Board of Governors and the Department of Environmental Protection sign off on the arrangement, the first phase of the project could begin in May of next year, with the demolition of the four oldest Andros dorms (Delta, Epsilon, Eta and Zeta all opened in 1964). 1,250 beds, along with portions of  of the new village, would open in time for the fall 2017 semester.

The second set of Andros dorms (Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu and Theta opened in 1966) would be torn down in 2018 and replaced by about 900 more beds. That phase is scheduled to open in June 2019.

The project would increase USF's housing level by about 1,000 beds, raising the on-campus capacity to nearly 7,000.

"We need these extra beds," Genshaft added, "because so many of our students would like to live on campus for a second year or even a third year, but we don't have room for them."

In addition, USF officials would like to qualify as a primary residential campus under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. To do that, it has to raise the number of undergraduates living on its Tampa campus from the current 14 percent (about 5,600 of its approximately 38,500 students) to 25 percent.

Trustees did a number of other things at Thursday's meeting, including approving a long-term strategic plan for USF Sarasota-Manatee. The "Focus on Quality 2020" plan includes increased research by faculty, creating on-campus housing options and a student union, and establishing a USF NCAA Women's Rowing Team.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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