The University of Florida (UF) – the economic engine of this region and one of the top ten public universities in America – has over $200 million in major capital projects coming online over the next few years. This figure includes nearly $120 million worth of University of Florida Athletic Association (UAA) facility upgrades. These visionary and sizable projects will strengthen the university’s infrastructure and benefit the Greater Gainesville area.
A prominent local elected official believes UF’s infrastructure investment is good for the community. “I am excited about the town and gown relationship between the City of Gainesville and the University of Florida,” said At-large Gainesville City Commissioner and veteran real estate agent Helen K. Warren. “UF’s infrastructure development is beneficial for Gainesville as it will have a positive impact on local economic growth,” added Commissioner Warren.
As a leading advocate for improving quality of life for all residents, Commissioner Warren thinks the genuine spirit of cooperation and collaboration between the city and the university is good. “Gainesville and UF have a vested interest to work together and as UF expands and spreads its influence, everyone wins,” noted Commissioner Warren, who was elected citywide to serve a three-year term on the City Commission in 2014 and subsequently reelected in 2017.
Additionally, an experienced developer in the region does not doubt the local benefit of the infrastructure investment. “It’s not a question of whether recent capital investments at UF will yield a positive impact in our community, but rather a question of to what degree they will help our community, and in what way,” said Dean R. Cheshire, Executive Vice President of Cheshire Companies.
Mr. Cheshire sees a tie between the university’s infrastructure, its students, and its success. “State-of-the-art facilities are critical to building and maintaining a top tier institution like UF. Although these capital investments may aid in attracting the best and brightest faculty and students, UF’s most profound impact on growth in our community has historically tracked – in very strong correlation – with growth in student population,” said Mr. Cheshire.
As a graduate from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences who received an M.B.A. from the Hough Graduate School of Business in 2009, Mr. Cheshire understands what it is like to be a student in this community and believes they are important to its vitality. “Those most interested in healthy and vibrant growth in our community are those committed to expanding both the quality and quantity of students attending the University of Florida. For sustainable and healthy community growth, we need the best students—and more of them,” opined Mr. Cheshire.
UF is the preeminent research university in Florida and has had a significant statewide impact. It contributed over $12 billion to Florida’s economy from 2014 – 2015 and nearly $8 billion to Florida’s gross domestic product in 2016 alone. The value proposition is compelling and state leaders have appropriated millions of dollars to support key university initiatives.
The university secured $32 million in Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds from the state legislature in 2017 to fund the following projects: Engineering Nexus ($8.7 million); Norman Hall ($17.4 million); and the Music Building ($5.9 million). In 2018, it seeks $50 million for the Data Science and Information Technology Building, and $7.9 million for Music Building renovation and addition (2017 funds were for planning and design).
Major capital projects coming online are profiled below:
Football Operations Project
Budget: $60.0 Million
Scheduled Completion: April 2019
Description: UAA plans to construct a new football operations facility with approximately 135,000 square feet. It is envisioned to be a three story building adjacent to the existing football practice fields.
Herbert Wertheim Laboratory for Engineering Excellence
Budget: $48.4 Million
Scheduled Completion: July 2019
Description: Nuclear Science Building renovation and addition (Engineering NEXUS).
Budget: $45.9 Million
Scheduled Completion: December 2019
Description: UAA intends to build a new 5,500 seat baseball stadium. The 128,000 square foot project will include a regulation sized competitive playing field.
Budget: $13.5 Million
Scheduled Completion: March 2019
Description: UAA plans to renovate and expand the Katie Seashole Pressley Stadium facility. Primary goals include expanding player facilities and providing expanded fan amenities.
Innovation Hub Phase II
Budget: $19.2 Million
Scheduled Opening: January 2018
Description: The Innovation Hub will be expanded through a new state-of-the-art technology business incubator. The 50,000 square foot Phase II building doubles the size of the current facility to 100,000 square feet and is comprised of office areas, workrooms, and laboratories.
UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Gantry Expansion
Budget: $13.4 Million
Scheduled Completion: November 2018
Description: This Jacksonville, FL project entails expanding the existing facility by 10,000 square feet. It will include a new proton accelerator and gantry for more patient treatments.
Career Resource Center
Budget: $9.7 Million
Scheduled Completion: June 2018
Description: Full renovation project nearly doubling the space with an addition, which will be under the Grand Ballroom at the Reitz.
IFAS Bee Unit Facility
Budget: $3.4 Million
Scheduled Completion: June 2018
Description: Florida has the opportunity to create the premier honey bee research, extension and instruction facility in the United States. The laboratory in this new building project will allow UF faculty to recruit and retain top researchers and students focused on bee-related issues.
By Kamal I. Latham
Conceptual renderings for University Athletics Association (UAA) facilities can be found at the following link http://floridagators.com/galleries/?gallery=3078
The IFAS Bee Unit Facility rendering can be found at the following link http://www.facilities.ufl.edu/library/prjdocs/00042120.pdf
Baseball Field drawings can be found in Section IX in the document in the following link http://www.facilities.ufl.edu/library/prjdocs/00043370.pdf