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Publix May Be Coming to USF

Fisher Architects / USF Board of Trustees
Site plan for Publix to be built on USF Tampa campus.

Shopping may soon be a pleasure for the almost 60,000 University of South Florida students, faculty and staff who would be able to stop at a Publix Supermarket proposed for the school's Tampa campus.

Under a plan approved Tuesday by the USF Board of Trustees Finance Workgroup, a 28,800 square foot Publix grocery store - think a neighborhood market, not a mega-store - would be built at the corner of Fletcher Avenue and Palm Drive.

University Chief Financial Officer Nick Trivunovich says the store would be part of the student housing village that would replace the Andros housing complex.

"It allows students who don't have cars, students who are here on campus, to go ahead and stay on campus to do their shopping," he said.

In addition to shopping, students would be able to sit, eat and study in special areas inside and outside the store.

And Publix would likely hire students, as they've agreed to hold at least two job fairs a year on campus.

"Students want to be efficient about their time, they want to have good experiences on campus, not having to leave," USF President Judy Genshaft said. "You can work there and study there as well as just take the groceries back to your residence hall."

Trivunovich added that USF sought proposals from other large grocery chains, including Winn-Dixie, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. However, Lakeland-based Publix was the only one to submit a plan.

"And we're thrilled to death, we feel like Publix has just such a tremendous reputation in the state," Trivunovich said.

Credit Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News
WUSF 89.7 News
A grass field and a parking lot currently sit at the corner of Fletcher Ave. and Palm Drive where USF would like a new Publix to be built.

USF would charge Publix $130,000 a year to rent approximately three acres of land for the store and parking lot. Currently, a grass field and portions of the Andros complex parking lot are on that property.

The contract would run for 20 years, with six five-year renewals available for a 50-year total term.

The plan now goes to the full USF Board of Trustees, which meets next Tuesday, and then the State Board of Governors. If all goes as planned, Trivunovich said the store could be open by fall 2017.

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

While the store is part of a proposed $133 million "live-study-play" student village, any decisions that need to be made by university and state officials about it will take place separately from those concerning the village.

The housing complex would remove the nine dorms that make up the fifty-year-old Andros complex and replace them with residence halls that would be home to 2,165 students. That's an increase of about 1,000 beds.

USF has entered into a public-private partnership agreement, also known as a 3P, with Capstone Development Partners and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital to build the complex. It's still awaiting approval by the state Board of Governors.

USF would like to start demolition of some Andros dorms in May of next year, with the first new halls opening around the same time as the Publix store in fall 2017.

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