Author Topic: UF President Ben Sasse to announce university's new plans in Jacksonville  (Read 59263 times)

marcuscnelson

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Wayne Wood is proposing to repurpose the recently vacated JEA buildings at Main and Church for the UF-Jax Campus.
https://open.substack.com/pub/sherrymagill/p/waynes-world-a-different-idea?r=6uwb9&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

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Converting acreage near FSCJ’s downtown campus doesn't work well, says Wood. In fact, his analysis of developing the acreage identified in Curry’s slide deck presentations is too costly and will require removing 50% of college parking, a JEA water processing facility, the Mary L. Singleton Senior Center, the City’s Engineer’s Building, and six Waterworks Park historic structures.

And developing a new campus on Fairgrounds property, Wood argues, is too far removed from the urban core which boasts museums, small shops, walkable streets, and outdoor parks. It’s where people are already concentrated.

Wood’s Proposal: Reimagine JEA’s Church Street Complex
“It’s the perfect location for the University of Florida downtown campus,” says Wood, referring to JEA’s Church Street complex which he describes as “nationally significant.”

It’s big, at 360,000 square feet.

This moves the JWB purchase of the Salvation Army site, across Main Street, into the 'very interesting' category.

I had a similar idea a few months ago:

I was thinking early in this, before we knew about the site selection, that a campus made up of the three blocks (save for the existing Salvation Army stuff) along Main Street between Church and Adams Streets (including the current Main Street Pocket Park), with the addition of the JEA building if that became available, would be a really cool urban location, especially if there was the ability to slow down Main Street so it'd be better for pedestrians. You'd be able to leverage the JEA site, plus have the Main Library right there, with multiple existing apartment buildings within a block of Adams & Main. You could even take advantage of the FBC Academy block, and the garage to the north of it. There's also the Jessie to the south, JWJ Park and the Skyway to the west, and Cathedral District and Elbow to the east. It'd be a great spot in the heart of downtown, but I imagine the hardest part would be securing all the parcels. Benefit of the currently highlighted site is that everything is either owned by FSCJ, JEA, or COJ.

I think in the end, UF would have preferred West Palm Beach (Jacksonville did lose the competitive process after all), but given everything with Greene they're open to trying to make it work here. If that's the case, and they're serious, we might as well lock it down as much as we can.

I would certainly suspect though that being able to reduce the city obligation for the stadium by going with the Fairgrounds might win out here. Plus it means they can get away with lower-slung buildings instead of immediately going for midrise or taller.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

thelakelander

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I don't know what UF's needs are but the campus doesn't sound like it will be a big one. The old JEA tower site, along with others, all could probably be made to work. Sounds like the type of project or catalytic opportunity a downtown master plan would address or provide guidance for.
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jaxlongtimer

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^ Another advantage of the old JEA building is the adjacent windowless former Ivey's department store building.  Seems that would be perfect for housing and protecting IT infrastructure that may be critical to UF's fintech or other cutting edge technology plans. 

Being on the Downtown electric grid shouldn't hurt either.  And close to the internet backbone and hubs at Church Street.

The height of the tower might also offer superior microwave or satellite transmission opportunities, often used as alternatives or backups to terrestrial connectivity. 

Wonder if JEA already utilized or addressed some of these things during their occupancy.

marcuscnelson

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I don't know what UF's needs are but the campus doesn't sound like it will be a big one. The old JEA tower site, along with others, all could probably be made to work. Sounds like the type of project or catalytic opportunity a downtown master plan would address or provide guidance for.

The presentation Action News Jax showed a few months ago suggested about 14 acres of land was being requested for at least "Phase 1" of the campus. The FSCJ site and the Fairgrounds are right about that much, although the FSCJ plan leaves a lot out as far as buildable area (obviously it's early to assume exact built space, but this is all we have):



The space that appears to actually have buildings on it (parcels 1, 2, and 3) amounts to about 9.3 acres. I don't think a specific square footage number has been given, although the price estimate then was around $200 million to build. The 4-block area I suggested in March (including the JEA/Universal Marion building) is just under 9 acres.

If the city was angling to get UF into the JEA building I suppose you'd want to offer it and perhaps part of an adjacent block to serve as a quad of sorts (or future expansion space if necessary), but that's assuming the city wants to do that more than it's willing to let the Jags have it at the Fairgrounds.

I was randomly reminded earlier that JTA was angling to somehow turn the Prime Osborn site into an innovation campus for UF or similar, but ironically now that UF is actually serious it doesn't appear that site is in the running at all. Ah, well.  ;D
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

marcuscnelson

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So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

simms3

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^^That's great news.  Good for CSX!  (although I'm sure having this school here will benefit them and so they *should* pony up)
Bothering locals and trolling boards since 2005

Charles Hunter

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Interesting that the article's listing of contributors did not mention Khan's conditional (on UF locating at the Fairgrounds site) contribution.

jaxlongtimer

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This has to be one of the strangest ways to blow over $187.5 million and counting.  No programs and no site figured out but we need all these dollars and more.  Seems ass-backwards to me.  Just like the autonomous vehicles.

Usually, you have plan and a budget and then raise dollars.  Amazing that donors, the City and State are all giving toward this "black hole" without having a clue what will come of it.  Typical MO of the City... just surprised others are participating.

I support UF building a base here but it needs to be done right.  Too many times in my life I have seen these "opportunities" where the City gets the cart before the horse and the project blows up.  This reminds me of what Jax did to attract Offshore Power Systems building floating nuclear power plants here.  Cost the City half of Blount Island with nothing to show for it but the world's largest gantry crane.  The Skyway would also be on my list.

Jacksonville is the world capital of "rainbow chasers" it seems.

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With initial fundraising goal met, here's what's next for UF in Jax plans

Having raised $62.5 million in private donations to potentially set up a graduate campus in Jacksonville, the University of Florida is preparing to move on to the next phase of the project.

That phase — which will include delving into site selection and deciding what programs will be part of the center — will require tens of millions of more dollars, a university spokesperson said earlier this week.

"Similar to the initial fundraising phase, UF will be looking at key industry and philanthropic leaders to secure the necessary support," spokeswoman Nicole Yucht said in the wake of CSX's donation of $10 million for the project. "Now our charge is to go back and ask all of those and more to continue to move forward."

So far, the process has raised $187.5 million, including $75 million from the state included in the 2023-2024 budget signed June 15 by Gov. DeSantis, and $50 million from the city, with $20 million of that coming in the current fiscal year.

The private donations add up to $62.5 million, including the money from CSX and $5 million pledged by the Jacksonville Jaguars — surpassing the $50 million goal organizers had originally set.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan has also said that his Iguana Investments would donate the former Jacksonville Fairgrounds site, which it purchased last year, for the campus.

It's unclear if the university will use that site, though, with Yucht saying it's too early in the process to discuss specific sites — or many other details about the plan.

The proposal announced in February had little in the way of details, other than that facility would focus on graduate education and would be downtown.

The rest is still being hammered out, Yucht said: "We're still very early in the process as far as site selection goes, what programs will be there, etc. This is like a startup coming to the community. They're going to need a lot of information and do a lot of evaluation."

That will include meeting with academic leaders and industry partners to determine exactly what educational needs the center should meet.

One area of focus that seems unlikely: logistics.

Despite the money from CSX, the center would not be looking to compete with the University of North Florida's Transportation and Logistics Flagship Program, which has been recognized by the Florida Legislature as a "program of distinction."

"I think we very much appreciate their gift as an investment in the community, not an investment in a specific program," Yucht said about the CSX money. "This is not to compete with other educational institutions."

Although the process has moved from the initial fundraising phase into more of a visioning phase, there is no timeline for when things might progress further.

"UF, the city of Jacksonville, the community stakeholders and all of our partners are really engaged in planning that next phase," she said. "We need to work closely with Mayor Deegan and her team to determine next steps for the project and shape a mutually beneficial vision for the center."

https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2023/07/28/uf-jax-next-phase.html?utm_source=st&utm_medium=en&utm_campaign=ae&utm_content=JA&j=32229851&senddate=2023-07-28


marcuscnelson

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I won't say this isn't weird, but I don't think this is the city's fault. UF is a state school, after all.

I'm more confused what UF is actually spending this money on. I recall the slides saying that the campus would cost $200 million or so but it's unclear what the breakdown of that is, and I thought they would still be able to use the state funds from the aborted West Palm Beach campus. It's all so strange. Why does it cost tens of millions of more dollars just to pick a site and decide what programs to put there? What resources are required to do that and why do they cost so much?
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

Ken_FSU

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Re: UF President Ben Sasse to announce university's new plans in Jacksonville
« Reply #114 on: November 06, 2023, 07:30:29 AM »
From the T-U today.

First time I’ve heard Brooklyn mentioned as a possibility.

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The university is currently considering three Jacksonville locations for the campus: near the fairgrounds, near Florida State College at Jacksonville and adjacent to the FIS campus.

Stated cost of the Downtown UF Campus (what that includes remains nebulous to the taxpayers) has risen from $200 million to $250 million:

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2024/01/12/cost-rises-for-university-of-florida-grad-center-in-jacksonville/72032021007/

Per the mayor, plans have gotten larger.

$185 million is already funded, including $75 million from the statement, a $50 million commitment from the city, and a really impressive $60 million in local corporate pledges led by CSX ($10 million) and the Jags ($5 million).

Donna doesn't know if the city will be asked for additional funding.

Interesting, it seems Brooklyn may be out of the running, and LaVilla may be in.

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In addition to the support from the city and private donors, UF also said it would need donated land for the future grad center. The city's financial support contains a requirement for the school to be in the downtown area.

The potential sites are in the LaVilla neighborhood that's home to the Prime Osborn Convention Center and Jacksonville Transportation Authority's regional transportation center, a second possible location north of downtown where the Florida State College of Jacksonville campus is located, and a third site in the sports complex.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2024, 11:40:18 PM by Ken_FSU »

Jax_Developer

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Re: UF President Ben Sasse to announce university's new plans in Jacksonville
« Reply #115 on: November 06, 2023, 08:44:13 AM »
From the T-U today.

First time I’ve heard Brooklyn mentioned as a possibility.

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The university is currently considering three Jacksonville locations for the campus: near the fairgrounds, near Florida State College at Jacksonville and adjacent to the FIS campus.

That would be more in line with the smaller student numbers once shown. I could really see Brooklyn ending up with it somehow. FIS, Black Knight, Haskell, Florida Blue being all right there.. not to mention upscale apartment housing & more on the way. Fits UF's vibe more than revitalizing an area of DT. Not my ideal outcome, just my observation.

Gateway does seem like that could be a suitable outcome too. Just not sure on the timelines there with UF.

CityLife

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Re: UF President Ben Sasse to announce university's new plans in Jacksonville
« Reply #116 on: November 06, 2023, 09:30:29 AM »
Jax's recent incompetence with downtown redevelopment may end up paying off bigtime with the UF campus. The UF/WPB project is completely off the table, so it is now Jax or nothing. The cost for land, lack of land for expansion, and cost of housing for professors/students was a big issue in West Palm Beach from what I heard. Average rent in downtown Jax is $1,500 compared to $2,750 for WPB. Even the houses on the wrong side of the tracks south of downtown WPB are going for $600-800 a square foot. In Jax you can get a house for $200 a square foot in Springfield or $250/300 a square foot in Riverside/Avondale. 

As an FSU grad and Jax native it's a win win for me. Will be a huge boost to Downtown Jax and will not give UF a free pipeline to the heavy hitting Wall Street companies and 57 billionaires in Palm Beach.


Captain Zissou

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Re: UF President Ben Sasse to announce university's new plans in Jacksonville
« Reply #117 on: November 06, 2023, 01:53:45 PM »
From the T-U today.

First time I’ve heard Brooklyn mentioned as a possibility.

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The university is currently considering three Jacksonville locations for the campus: near the fairgrounds, near Florida State College at Jacksonville and adjacent to the FIS campus.

I wonder if this will be the piece of property between Haskell and the YMCA.  There's not much other land available unless some of the projects in our glorious "development pipeline" are going to pivot to a UF related use.

acme54321

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Re: UF President Ben Sasse to announce university's new plans in Jacksonville
« Reply #118 on: November 06, 2023, 03:07:34 PM »
A campus along Myrtle spanning McCoys creek might be kind of cool.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: UF President Ben Sasse to announce university's new plans in Jacksonville
« Reply #119 on: November 06, 2023, 03:41:34 PM »
A campus along Myrtle spanning McCoys creek might be kind of cool.

Interesting that you  bring this up.  There is a large amount of acreage under common ownership, the former US Natural Resources complex, bounded roughly by W. Beaver, Myrtle, Eaverson and Kings Road.  It may be the largest non-governmental parcel on that side of downtown.