The University of South Florida St. Petersburg embarks on its latest chapter of growth with the construction of a new residence hall and dining facility. Community leaders and local elected officials including Mayor Rick Kriseman, USFSP Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock, and USF President Judy Genshaft gathered today to officially break ground on a project that will increase the campus’ housing population by nearly 70%.
The 125,000 square foot building will be six-stories and have 375 beds. Once complete it will join two other dormitories in expanding on-campus housing from 550 beds to more than 900, an important step for the university which has recently had to house students in the Downtown St. Pete Hilton Bayfront Hotel due to lack of capacity.
The building will be located at the northwestern corner of campus on 6th Avenue South between 3rd and 4th Street South, across the street from the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Research and Education Building, which opened last year.
Most of the units in the building will have a “suite-style” configuration with four-bed, two-bath single occupancy units. The remaining rooms will be two-bed, one-bath double-occupancy units, a more traditional type of dorm unit. The project will also feature a full-service dining hall, a first for the USFSP campus. Projects like these are significant in building campus culture and community.
“This is an important milestone in the continued upward trajectory of our university,” said Martin Tadlock, Regional Chancellor of USFSP. On campus housing has been shown to improve retention and increase student success and once the project is complete around 20% of students will be able to live on campus.
Revenue from the USF Tampa’s current student housing buildings was used to provide bond capacity for construction financing of the USFSP project, a collaboration that is likely to continue once the USF consolidation process is finalized.
“This project will be transformational for USF St. Petersburg and for the USF System,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “It also demonstrates the importance of collaboration across campuses for the benefit of students, which is the driving force behind the consolidation process. By working together, we are able to best meet the needs of all the communities we serve and drive continued economic development.”
USFSP’s campus anchors St. Pete’s Innovation District, which is home to a cluster of large medical and educational institutions such as Bayfront Hospital, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, the Florida Institute of Oceanography, and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. The District is one of the city’s primary economic development initiatives and has already paid dividends with the creation of hundreds of jobs and millions in new investment.
Along with the 375 USF students that will soon call the Innovation District home, a real estate development group, the Richman Group, is also currently constructing The Exchange, a 132-unit apartment project, at 555 Dr. MLK Jr Street South. While The Exchange is expected to open later this year, USFSP’s housing project is not expected to open until July 2020, just in time for the 2020-2021 academic school year. The continued growth of the Innovation District and of USF St. Petersburg are representative of Downtown St. Pete’s continued vibrancy.