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USF Sarasota-Manatee campus housing is approved by Florida Board of Governors

Aerial map of campus
USF Sarasota-Manatee
Plans for the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus include two new buildings: an academic building for nursing/STEM programs, and a housing/student center.

Ground would be broken on the USF Sarasota Manatee housing/student center no later than this October, with plans to open in fall of 2024.

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus is moving closer to having student housing for the first time in its 47-year history.

On Wednesday, the Florida Board of Governors unanimously approved building a multi-story, 100,000 square foot housing/student center.

The housing section will take up 68,000 square feet on the upper floors, and be home to as many as 200 students in configurations of one, two, or four bedrooms (70 double-occupancy, 60 single-occupancy) with shared bathrooms, living spaces, and kitchens/kitchenettes.

The student center will be occupy 32,000 square feet on the ground floor and include a bookstore, dining areas, lounges, and meeting rooms.

Ground is projected to be broken on the center no later than October 2022, with plans to be completed in May 2024 and opening in the fall semester.

The building is expected to cost about $39 million. USF will contribute about $16.5 million. The rest will come from the sale of up to $30 million in bonds through the USF Financing Corp.

The bonds would be repaid with revenue from the USF Housing System, as well as about $200,000 a year in activity and service fees collected on the Sarasota-Manatee campus.

A USF consultant reported that a study found many students said living on campus would be more affordable than many off-campus options in the Sarasota-Manatee area. That comes as both Tampa (nearly 6,500 students) and St. Petersburg (more than 900 students) welcome the most students residing on campus than ever.

"Our students have often told us they would like to live on campus and enjoy a traditional college experience. The new student center and residence hall will transform our beautiful campus and provide our students with new opportunities for success,” USFSM campus regional chancellor Karen Holbrook said in a USF news release. “This project has been considered for several years, and I’m grateful to President (Rhea) Law for helping bring it to fruition, and to the Board of Governors and the USF Board of Trustees for their support.”

“With on-campus housing, students will have a chance to interact with each other more as well as experience student life on-campus instead of having to commute every day,” added USFSM student government Gov. Evelyn De Oliveira. “I believe the demand is there even though we are a small campus. It will give students the opportunity to experience living on their own, including international students who want to come to USF but would like the close-knit environment.”

USF officials are also planning on adding a $62 million, 75,000-square-foot Nursing/STEM building near the housing/student center.

It would double the size of the campus' nursing program, increase the number of teaching and clinical labs and research facilities, and add potential residents for the new housing project.

State government approved the initial $3 million appropriation for the new building earlier this year.

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