Santa Fe College held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Blount Campus on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, at the Blount Center. Construction is slated to begin on or about February 1, 2020, with completion targeted for 16 months later.
Once completed, the three-story 86,311 square-foot building will become the Blount Campus, complete with classrooms, lab suites and related student support and service areas. The new Blount Campus will also more than double the business incubation space for SF’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED). The CIED not only provides an array of services to local entrepreneurs, but the expanded space will also give students the opportunity to work with and learn from area business leaders.
“The new Blount Campus will be the shining star in downtown Gainesville’s renaissance,” said SF President Jackson Sasser. “It will serve our east Gainesville partners, the growing business and technology sectors and it will be a gathering place for entrepreneurs and artists. The relationship with our neighbors, the city of Gainesville and the University of Florida friends inspire this Santa Fe investment.”
One of the goals of the project is to increase higher education opportunities for underserved communities in downtown and East Gainesville. Many of SF’s business and IT degree programs will move to the new facility, alleviating space concerns on the Northwest Campus and providing a conveniently accessible location for high-demand high-wage programs in the heart of Gainesville.
“We really envision the Blount Center as an open resource for the community,” SF Provost Ed Bonahue said. “Whether folks are coming from the Pleasant Street or Porter’s communities, or from downtown or East Gainesville, we will offer everything from GED classes to bachelor’s degrees.”
Funding for the project comes from both the private and public sector, including a $4.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). That funding will go toward the expansion of the CIED to strengthen the regional economy from local start-up companies in the business incubator.
SF hired architecture firm Harvard Jolly to design the new facility. Harvard Jolly Senior Vice President and Principal, Philip Trezza, said the firm is excited about what the new facility will bring to the greater Gainesville community. “Harvard Jolly Architecture is proud and excited to see this day come for Santa Fe College,” said Trezza. “We are pleased to have designed this new facility to provide a variety of spaces where students and entrepreneurs will learn and collaborate for years to come. It will be a welcoming and vibrant destination that will connect with downtown Gainesville, the University of Florida and the surrounding neighborhoods.”
The new Blount Campus will provide a full array of student services, including help with applications, financial aid, academic advising. There will be a library, study spaces for both small and larger groups of students and common areas where students can relax between classes.