New UF dorm planned along SW 13th Street

Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.

University of Florida construction managers are planning the school's first new residence hall in 12 years, a $20.5 million dormitory on Southwest 13th Street southeast of the historic Yulee and Reid Halls.

It is being designed to accommodate an increased demand for on-campus housing as well as students with disabilities.

Construction of the new 250-student dorm is expected to begin in mid- to late fall and be completed in time for new and returning students to move in for the 2015 fall term, said Sharon Blansett, spokeswoman for UF Housing.

"We might meet the demand of the freshman class, but that would not provide a balanced environment," Blansett said. "We like to have continuing students living with new students."

The units will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for any undergraduates seeking on-campus living, she said.

The new hall will include single- and double-occupancy units, "super suites" where several students would share one to three bathrooms and a common living area, and rooms specially equipped for students with disabilities.

"Because this facility is located near the Disability Resource Center in Reid Hall, design plans include additional ADA student rooms, especially those in support of students needing mobility accommodations," Blansett said. "These features ... will create opportunities to build a unique and supportive community on the UF campus."

The University Facilities, Planning and Construction Department will finance the project with a bond sale to be repaid by revenues generated by student rent, Blansett said. The planning phase will cost about $3 million, with construction to cost $17.5 million.

"This will not be built with state tax dollars," she said. "We have to generate and manage our own finances."

At hearings in November, Senior Project Manager Frank Javaheri said the new dorm will be adjacent to dorms that are on the Historic Register and within the Historic District Impact Zone.

The building's design is supposed to take into account the location of the historic buildings and comply with campus preservation guidelines.

The building will be from four to five stories, due to the sloping terrain.

Javaheri told the University Lakes, Vegetation and Landscape Committee that five loblolly pines and one live oak would have to be removed and a heritage live oak would need to be trimmed back but would be protected.

According to meeting minutes, Javaheri told the Parking and Transportation advisory committee that roughly 14 orange decal spaces, up to eight motorcycle spaces and one space for disabled parking would be affected by construction. During construction the east side of the lot will be closed, he said. No student parking should be affected, he told the committee.

Plans also call for relocating an ADA sidewalk.

The dorm fits in with UF's master plan to have 24 percent of the student population in Gainesville living on campus by 2015. UF has no residential requirement, but studies have shown that students who live on campus tend to have a higher GPA and a better experience.

In fall 2011, UF had 7,600 undergraduates living on campus and 980 graduate students.

The last dorm built at UF was the Hume Honors Residential College in 2002. It is exclusively for UF honors students.

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