USF plans ambitious building program, but still needs funds

skennedy@bradenton.comJune 7, 2013 

MANATEE -- The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is pushing forward with an ambitious building program that would more than double the size of its campus and require acquisition of several neighboring properties, according to a plan reviewed Thursday by the Manatee County Commission.

The plan calls for a 264,000-square-foot expansion to include housing, academic facilities, additional offices, an auditorium, and additions to the central plant, the plan said.

"Our first target is a $28 million buildout of the academic center of 7,500 square feet," Dennis Stover, USF's regional vice chancellor for advancement, said after the meeting.

Asked how much the whole expansion might cost, he said, "We've not done that, I can't even guess at it, it's too soon."

USF previously estimated that the total investment during the first five years would reach $50 million, the Herald has reported.

There is no money yet for construction, said Richard Lyttle, USF's director of facilities, who did not com

ment but watched from the audience at a land-use meeting at County Administrative Center.

"Things can change," Lyttle said when asked how the expansion might be financed.

The plan also calls for a bookstore on USF's campus, now near where U.S. 41 intersects with University Parkway along the border of Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The university also hopes to build 29,600 square feet of commercial development, and "possible development of shared use facilities on the Crosley Estate property to the west, including a boathouse for the USF crew team," according to the college's updated longterm plan.

As the county continues its redevelopment of U.S. 41, commissioners said they welcome USF's involvement.

"We look forward to working with you," Commissioner Betsy Benac said.

In addition to the campus expansion, the number of parking spaces would increase from 627 to 1,175, the plan said.

The building program would accommodate a dramatic increase in the number of students, from 2,558 in 2010-11 to 4,190 in 2020, as USF adds freshman and sophomore undergraduates to its student body, the plan said.

Among the properties USF hopes to acquire are, according to the plan:

• The Hilton Garden Inn on the campus' north boundary

• Yasky Inc., self-storage, west and north of the Hilton Garden Inn

• Airport Inn, formerly Ramada Inn, adjacent to campus on the south boundary

• Leedom Management Group Inc.'s used car lots, between the Airport Inn and Viking properties to the university's south

Less than a year ago, the corporate owners of the Hilton Garden Inn, which USF cites as a possibility for student housing, sent a letter of cease-and-desist to university officials instructing the school to no longer mention the operating hotel among its plans for expansion.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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