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News Clips 01/17/2013
UWF's campus expansion plans on fast track
Source: Pensacola News Journal, 01/16/13
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By Carlton Proctor
University of West Florida officials have put expansion plans into overdrive, setting a tight Feb. 1 deadline for developers to submit qualifications to drive a multimillion dollar project that will change the face of the campus.
UWF’s Associate Vice President for Research and Development Dave O’Brien told about 60 developers and contractors Wednesday that selecting a master developer for its University Park and Northwest Development projects will move swiftly after the Feb. 1 submissions.
The transformative University Park potentially includes a new student union, additional housing facilities, a football stadium and parking garage.
The Northwest Village plan revolves around a residential community for people age 55 and older.
The meeting drew a Who’s Who of Pensacola developers and contractors, including Bill Greenhut, president of Greenhut Construction, local businessman and UWF Board of Trustees Chairman Lewis Bear Jr., and Donald Jehle and Glenn Halstead of Jehle and Halstead, a Pensacola engineering firm.
The request for qualifications will be vetted by UWF’s Business Enterprises Inc., the for-profit development arm of the university, O’Brien said.
BEI also will hire an independent consultant to review the finalists’ qualifications and financial status.
Selection of a master developer from a short list is expected by early March, and completion of a development contract is scheduled for early June, O’Brien said.
BEI interim CEO Jim Barnett said the accelerated timeline is vital to accommodate future campus growth.
“We must grow,” Barnett said. “We’re doing this thing because it will help our educational mission. That’s our purpose.”
Barnett said it’s critical UWF have an additional 250 first-time-on-campus housing units ready by Aug. 1, 2015.
That deadline, he said, is fixed and must be met by whomever is selected master developer.
UWF’s student population is projected to grow from 12,000 to 14,000 by fall semester 2015.
The master plan ultimately calls for 1,000 additional housing units during the next decade.
“The student housing component of this is extremely critical to the master plan process,” O’Brien said.
Barnett and O’Brien spent about an hour Wednesday outlining the scope of UWF’s master plan.
“The purpose of Northwest Village is to provide living options for lifelong learners … as well as retired faculty and others with university affiliations,” according to BEI’s mission statement.
In making its final decision on a master developer, O’Brien told the gathered contractors and developers BEI is looking for the “best value and the best fit that will create a longterm partnership. We’re looking for the best of the best.”
However, Barnett reminded interested developers that to be considered they must accept the financial risk of the projects.
“This will be a true partnership,” Barnett said. “We expect the master developer to make money on these projects. We want them to make money.”