University of South Florida St. Petersburg faculty, staff and students showed up in force, as the first ceremonial shovels of dirt were turned for a $30 million residence hall and dining facility on campus.
“This marks a new era for USF St. Petersburg,” said Martin Tadlock, regional chancellor, at the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday. “There are certain times that come along that are watershed moments. This is one of those.”
See highlights from the groundbreaking ceremony in the gallery below.
The six-story dorm, approved by the Florida Board of Governors last fall, will have 375 student beds and can accommodate 400 people in the full-service dining hall. It will increase the number of students living on campus by nearly 70 percent.
The USF Financing Corp. sold $30.14 million in bonds in January to finance construction of the residence hall and equipping it.
Construction is scheduled to be completed by July 2020. Once open, it will help meet increased demand for student housing at what historically was a commuter campus.
“There is a critical demand for housing and especially affordable housing, and that’s what we want for all of our students,” said Judy Genshaft, USF president. “We know that housing absolutely makes a difference in student success. People who live on campus take more courses, they graduate sooner, they do better in their GPA.”
There are other benefits as well, said Stephanie Goforth, a USF trustee and campus board chair.
“Living on campus is not just about convenience for students. It’s about building the community, helping them find their place, both academically and socially,” Goforth said.
Highlights of the new dorm include:
- A large first-floor lounge, essentially a living room for students with areas to study and hang out
- An open, spacious community kitchen adjacent to the lounge
- Lounges on each individual floor as well as community laundry space
- Suite-style rooms. About 60 percent to 75 percent of the rooms will be four-bed, two-bath single occupancy units, with the rest two-bed, one-bath double occupancy units. About 30 percent to 40 percent of the single occupancy units will be designated as “flex” units, capable of converting to double occupancy.
The Beck Group is leading the design team, and Beck and Envision are construction managers. Beck is seeking LEED gold certification for the facility from the U.S. Green Building Council. If certified it would be the fourth USFSP building to earn gold certification.
Beck handed out more than 300 virtual reality goggles at the groundbreaking ceremony, allowing people to take a virtual tour of the new facility using their smartphones.