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UCF Gets $1M Toward Downtown Campus, Now Seeking Developers

UCF's proposed downtown campus.
UCF's proposed downtown campus.

Requests for proposals are out to build a downtown campus for the University of Central Florida and its partner, Valencia College. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer joined university officials and community partners Monday to discuss the project for the first time since Governor Rick Scott signed off on a $20 million gift from the state legislature to help pay for it.

The downtown campus, part of a project called Creative Village, will bring students downtown for media, hospitality, and business training. Its goal is two-fold: to create a so-called "talent pipeline" that keeps students in Orlando once they have graduated and to develop a thriving business community downtown.

“This is really a game changer for our downtown. I don’t think anybody really understands what an impact the Creative Village as a whole will have, but especially the academic portion of it - bringing 7 or 8,000 students to our downtown every day,” said Dyer.

UCF and Valencia College will co-design a curriculum for students that includes short-term training and certificates for residents in the nearby Parramore, according to Valencia West provost Dr. Felicia Williams.

The City of Orlando will donate $75 million worth of land and infrastructure resources for the project. UCF will kick in $20 million and the rest will come from public and private donors, including Orange County. So far, UCF has received $17 million from community partners toward the project. That includes a $1 million gift from BB&T, which officials announced Monday.

Fred Kittinger, senior vice president for University Relations, calls the most recent gift a step forward for the whole city.

“If you’re going to bring 7,700 pairs of feet - those are students from UCF and Valencia that are coming downtown - it means a lot of impact both educationally for us, but also for the community," said Kittinger. "You start changing the dynamics and the feel and the tenor of downtown Orlando.”

He says officials expect to hire a developer by the summer.

The downtown campus is expected to open in 2018.