Author Topic: UF President Ben Sasse to announce university's new plans in Jacksonville  (Read 59261 times)

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

jaxlongtimer

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There is a second article on The Times Union web site from West Palm Beach.  It appears their project could be much more robust than Jacksonville's as it discusses needing up to 2 million square feet and having $300 million in naming rights.  The square feet are equal to two TIAA/Everbank towers downtown.  Don't see that in the cards here.

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“It’s an absolute selling point because when companies come to us they ask us where will their employees be trained,” Smallridge said. “We are very much counting on, and working hard, to get the 2 million square feet for UF up and running for long-term economic success.”

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/westpb/2023/03/02/university-of-florida-campus-in-west-palm-still-doable-but-needs-work/69957893007/

thelakelander

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Is UF West Palm campus back on? - Billionaire Greene says he is willing to compromise

March 2, 2023 | Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Author/Byline: Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post | Page: 1A | Section: A Section
1033 Words | Readability: Lexile: 1580, grade level(s): >12

A once-kumbaya plan to bring a bustling University of Florida campus to West Palm Beach looked kaput Tuesday when the state's flagship school groused about "regrettable divisions" in the community that almost certainly stem from a fuss over naming rights.

But the self-made Palm Beach billionaire at the center of the fray said he still wants to bring a campus to downtown, is meeting with new UF President Ben Sasse this month and is willing to compromise to get a deal done.

Developer Jeff Greene, who once waited tables at The Breakers before earning billions of dollars betting against the subprime mortgage market, said having his name on the school in exchange for donating 5 acres of land gave him skin in the game. He said the donation would be a motivator to "put his heart and soul" into a hometown program, and spur donations from moneyed friends who otherwise don't care about UF.

But instead of accolades, Greene said he got a black eye after the university backed out of a naming agreement penned in early 2022.

"This whole thing is getting spun in a mean-spirited way against me," Greene said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post on Wednesday.

After learning his name wouldn't be on the campus, Greene said he offered to sell the land to UF instead.

That deal didn't pan out. In late January, then-UF President Ken Fuchs wrote Greene to tell him that UF didn't want to name the entire campus after Greene because the university needed to keep naming rights available for other needed donations.

Fuchs then told Greene the price of naming rights for various aspects of the project: $150 million for the campus, $100 million for the school and $50 million for a building. "Your request to have the campus named after you in exchange for your gift would not allow us the naming inventory needed to secure $300 million," Fuchs wrote to Greene.

In the Wednesday interview, Greene retorted: "I don't care about a building. This was never about naming. It was about getting involved."

To build a West Palm Beach campus, UF needs 12 acres, including Green's 5 acres, combined with 5 acres from the county and 2 acres from the city.

Efforts to fold Greene's land into the campus plan reached a stalemate after the December sales deal fell apart. On Tuesday, UF announced it would "pause" its plans for a possible West Palm Beach campus in a statement that hinted at the behind-the-scenes drama.

"Given some regrettable divisions in the local community, the University of Florida is pausing deliberation about a possible West Palm Beach campus," the announcement said. "As Florida's flagship university and a land-grant institution, UF is committed to being a unifying presence throughout the state and does not want to divide communities we aim to serve."

Greene said he had a "very positive conversation" with Sasse on Tuesday where he got the impression that Sasse, being new, just needed time to review the West Palm Beach plan inked by the former president's administration before signing off on it.

But that's not what was conveyed in the UF statement, Greene said.

"At the end of the day, he's the sheriff," Greene said about Sasse. "I'm not going to pick a fight with him."

City and county officials rushed to soften UF's statement, saying they were hopeful an agreement for a campus was still possible.

Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the Palm Beach County Business Development Board, said she doesn't think businesses considering moving to the area will have a knee-jerk reaction to the UF announcement. But the campus has been a big part of her pitch to local and out-of-state companies.

"It's an absolute selling point because when companies come to us they ask us where will their employees be trained," Smallridge said. "We are very much counting on, and working hard, to get the 2 million square feet for UF up and running for long-term economic success."

Tuesday's announcement didn't shock Smallridge, but it was a realization that the plan, which appeared on track with both the county and city readily approving land donations, needed more finessing.

"I go back 34 years doing this, and I know that the hardest projects can come with little bumps along the way," Smallridge said.

A get-together in Palm Beach County between UF donors and the school's fundraising department is scheduled for Friday. Greene said Sasse couldn't meet with him then, but suggested meeting later in the month.

Stephen Ross, the billionaire owner of the Miami Dolphins football team and chairman of the prolific West Palm Beach builder Related Cos., has worked behind the scenes to court UF. He said he's hopeful a deal with UF is "salvageable" and believes Palm Beach County School District land near A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts is a feasible alternative to Green's 5 acres.

Ross said he has spoken to school district Superintendent Mike Burke about the possibility of using district land.

The district released a statement Tuesday saying it is "exploring beneficial opportunities for growth."

"As such, Superintendent Mike Burke has taken part in talks with the City of West Palm Beach, the University of Florida, and interested parties to explore a potential partnership within our school community," the statement said.

Millions of dollars in public and private money are riding on the UF campus in West Palm Beach, including $100 million Florida lawmakers gave the school last year to build the program. The money is contingent on getting the 12 acres of land donated and achieving $100 million in cash donations before July 1. 2027.

Greene said he'd like to follow the original plan with UF where he donates the land in exchange for the campus being named after him.

But he is also willing to make up the difference between what the school is able to raise and the $100 million, sell his 5 acres to UF, and "walk away."

"I think we still have the best site and best city for the school," Greene said.

Palm Beach Post reporters Alexandra Clough and Katherine Kokal contributed to this story.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/restricted/?return=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.palmbeachpost.com%2Fstory%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fwestpb%2F2023%2F03%2F02%2Funiversity-of-florida-campus-in-west-palm-still-doable-but-needs-work%2F69957893007%2F
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

fsu813

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UF representative came to speak to the city council finance committee about the project yesterday:
https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2023/03/07/uf-satellite-campus-moves-closer-to-reality-but-questions-still-remain/

I'm all for striking while the irons hot to miraculously win this school. However, of note: no way to recoup the $50 mill gift if UF decides it's not going to work out. Not overly concerned about that, but seems obviously irresponsible not to include.

Bigger of note: the location now only has to be "within 2 miles" of the Downtown boundaries. WTF? Seems like a red flag.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2023, 09:38:00 AM by fsu813 »

Zac T

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West Palm Beach leaders are now in talks with other out-of-state universities as UF decides whether they even want a campus in West Palm. The proposed Jacksonville campus continues to gain traction.

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Talks are afoot to lure a top, private, out-of-state university in a bid to replace a University of Florida downtown graduate campus as the highly-touted proposal remains stalled with no resolution in sight.

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James said Monday that "conversations are taking place behind the scenes" to possibly bring another university to the city. "We have the land," James said.

James would not name any names, nor did he indicate a firm deal was afoot.

But his comments followed similar remarks made earlier that afternoon by Related Cos. partner Gopal Rajegowda during a panel discussion on West Palm Beach real estate, hosted by the Urban Land Institute.

During the Monday presentation, Rajegowda noted the once hoped-for UF campus was up in the air. Then Rajegowda added that "another university is excited about bringing a campus to the downtown."

...

Greene said Sasse told him that details over land donation terms weren’t a factor.

“I think they’re trying to decide if they even want to have any campus,” Greene said.

Greene also said he suggested to James that if UF doesn’t want to come to West Palm Beach, the city issue a request for proposals. Greene said he remains eager to "help build a great school in this community.” 

But Greene said it was appropriate to wait a few more months before officials seek other suitors to occupy the prime downtown land. 

In a statement issued Tuesday, UF reiterated that the West Palm Beach campus "is now part of our larger six-month strategic review of geographic partnerships." UF didn't elaborate on the status of the review.

...

Around the same time that UF was backpedaling on a West Palm Beach campus, the university announced a proposed campus in Jacksonville. In February, UF said the campus would focus on fields such as health care.

By March, the campus was slated to also include artificial intelligence and financial technology, also known as fintech. Fintech programs had been earmarked for the proposed West Palm Beach campus.

Kelly Smallridge, president of Palm Beach County's Business Development Board, said her heart sank when she saw that fintech was planned for Jacksonville. Smallridge also said discussions between UF and local business leaders to shape the curriculum for graduate programs in West Palm Beach have ceased.

"I am very discouraged," Smallridge said. "We were very certain this would happen as part of our economic development initiative. But I'm not going to write it off. Hopefully, (UF) needed time, and that's where they're at right now."

Meanwhile, the Jacksonville UF campus plan is gaining momentum.


https://www.gainesville.com/story/news/local/westpb/2023/04/20/could-university-of-florida-be-replaced-in-west-palm-beach-campus/70125440007/

Ken_FSU

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^Love it!

West Palm's loss is our gain.

jaxlongtimer

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^ I have said all along I thought this was UF playing one city against another.  The proposals were nearly identical and no way did it make sense for UF to build out in both cities.  My guess is Jax was Plan B and now that becomes Plan A given the issues that arose in WPB.  Still issues with the ambiguous info so far so we shall see if UF really has a solid plan in the end.

WPB says they are looking at an out-of-state replacement.  I hope DeSantis isn't advocating for Hillsdale College.... what he is trying to turn New College into  >:(.

marcuscnelson

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Lucky us, it seems. The state legislature appears to be coming around to $75 million to support the UF campus downtown.

https://floridapolitics.com/archives/608169-budget-conference-house-senate-far-apart-on-money-for-uf-jax-campus/
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

fsu813

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Lucky us, it seems. The state legislature appears to be coming around to $75 million to support the UF campus downtown.

https://floridapolitics.com/archives/608169-budget-conference-house-senate-far-apart-on-money-for-uf-jax-campus/

That's not luck, that's relationships

thelakelander

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Pretty much!
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

blizz01

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Did I read that correctly - 10k students?  I thought it was supposed to be like 2k grad students (?). That's a ton of enrollment downtown.

a “15-acre campus expected to handle about 10,000 grad students with a focus on health care business, engineering and artificial intelligence,”
« Last Edit: May 01, 2023, 06:33:23 PM by blizz01 »

Ken_FSU

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^Unless something has radically changed, I don’t think that 10k figure is accurate.

Long-term numbers have always been presented as 2-4k, including faculty.

thelakelander

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Yes, seems like a typo. Maybe they meant 1,000.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

fsu813

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Did I read that correctly - 10k students?  I thought it was supposed to be like 2k grad students (?). That's a ton of enrollment downtown.

a “15-acre campus expected to handle about 10,000 grad students with a focus on health care business, engineering and artificial intelligence,”

I've heard the long view is very much a factor in all this, so expect growth well beyond whatever the initial number is.

thelakelander

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A 15-acre campus with 10,000 students would need high-rise buildings. They'd need more land to accommodate that number, assuming this campus would also have dorms.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali