TAMPA -- The University of South Florida's medical school is headed to downtown Tampa.
In what is being touted as a move that can transform the school as well as the future of the downtown community, the board of trustees voted unanimously Thursday to build the new Morsani College of Medicine and the USF Heart Health Institute in downtown Tampa.
The new, 12-story tower is slated to be constructed on Channelside Drive at South Meridian Avenue on land donated specifically for this project by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. The move is part of Vinik's ongoing transformation of the Channelside District, which includes plans for a hotel adjacent to Amalie Arena and a still yet-to-be unveiled vision for struggling Channelside Plaza.
"I applaud the University of South Florida’s Board of Trustees with their vote today to move forward with the relocation of the medical school and heart institute to downtown," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "Their vision for a signature USF presence in the urban core will pay dividends for decades."
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USF officials say the move will make the university's medical school one of the best in the country. The school's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) is already located in downtown Tampa.
A January 21 meeting with the Board of Governor's is the next step in the process. The project is expected to cost about $150 million, with most of those funds already in place, according to USF officials. Officials said the school could be open by 2018. "Make no mistake that this is a bold step," Buckhorn said. "Relocating to downtown Tampa gives USF an opportunity to be even more competitive in recruiting students, faculty, and researchers while enhancing the learning experience for its medical students.
"This is the right decision at the right time for USF and for Tampa."