UCF got its first victory in the fight to secure funding and approval for a downtown campus.
On Thursday, UCF presented to the Florida Board of Governors and received an initial vote recommending $2.77 million be funded by the Legislature, allowing UCF to keep planning a downtown campus.
“The alternative would be either we’re done or we’re kind of going laterally. We’re moving foward, we’re very pleased with the action of the board today,” said UCF President John C. Hitt minutes after the unanimous vote.
The total cost of a downtown campus would hover over $200 million and would be placed where the old Orlando Magic arena was, in the open area between Amelia and Robinson street.
Over a hundred supporters came out in favor of the downtown campus on Thursday, including Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Senate President Andy Gardiner.
“Ultimately the legislature will decide on the funding, we get that, but it’s important to have a partnership with the Board of Governors,” said Gardiner. “Where it’s going to be located, the housing, it’s just very important to our community.”
The Board of Governors did have concerns that they need to have addressed before UCF continues to keep moving forward, notably state board member Norman Tripp who wanted to see more planning for parking and housing downtown.
“I don’t see the commitment to the parking that is going to be necessary to handle all of this,” Tripp said in board member discussion.
While the downtown campus is still in premature stages, Hitt acknowledged that the fall 2017 opening date in the presentation could potentially be pushed back.
“I think we still can have a good opening whether it be fall of 2017 or 2018. I think we’re still on schedule to move a high impact program in for Central Florida within the next few years,” Hitt said.