The University of Central Florida proposed downtown campus has its $67 million commitment from the city of Orlando but that does not mean the university has what it takes yet to get state approval.
Orlando City Council voted unanimously Monday afternoon to approve a deal that would donate land, a building and infrastructure improvements toward UCF’s planned new campus, a proposal that brought out nothing but praise from Mayor Buddy Dyer and City Commissioners.
But that deal, which has been in negotiations between the city, UCF and Valencia College, may be the easy part this winter.
So UCF Board of Trustees Chairman Marcos Marchena expressed that while he was excited, he felt a sense of “partial accomplishment.”
Marchena and other UCF officials still need $20 million from the state, which will mean pleasing three different authorities in short order: the Board of Governors, the Florida Legislature, and Gov. Rick Scott. To win those approvals, the university pledged to match that $20 million with $20 million from UCF and $20 million in private, ash donations.
“This was very critical,” Marchena said of the Orlando deal. “The Board of Governors wanted to make sure that the city was fully committed to this project and this action sends the message that the city is fully onboard. They’re making a serious commitment in both property and infrastructure improvements.”
But he added that while the Orlando deal, “helps significantly in the areas that it needed to help, it will not help in the area reaching the total funding that we need to reach.”
UCF heads toward a March 2 presentation to the Board of Governors still lacking more than half the private donations the university had agreed to seek after Scott vetoed $15 million in state funding for the campus last year.
Nonetheless, Fred Kittinger, UCF’s associate vice president for university relations, expressed strong confidence that the private money will come together.
“We’ve had some very good conversations,” Kittinger told the city council. “We’re very confident we are going to get this done this spring.”
UCF’s downtown campus is proposed as a keystone part of the “Creative Village” development Orlando, UCF, Valencia and private developers have been putting together for the northwest corner of downtown Orlando for more than five years. To date, little has happened on the 68-acre site that once was home to the Orlando Magic’s first basketball arena, torn down in 2012.
UCF hopes to open it in the fall of 2018.
The joint-use campus would offer 14 academic programs in digital entertainment, health technology and administration and public service. UCF projects about 7,700 students, though some would be in a non-traditional program that would involve on-line classes and other off-site education.