Projects aplenty are popping up near the UF campus


The Presbyterian Student Center will be redeveloped into U14 expected to open in summer 2014 with up to seven restaurants, including Burrito Bros. Taco Co.

Photo provided by MW Bender Architecture
Published: Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 6:32 p.m.

The view from the University of Florida campus could be decidedly different in the coming years with all the redevelopment plans in the works.

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The Presbyterian Student Center will be redeveloped into U14 expected to open in summer 2014 with up to seven restaurants, including Burrito Bros. Taco Co.

Photo provided by MW Bender Architecture

The 10-story University Corners project at the northwest corner of University Avenue and 13th Street would be the largest and best known of the bunch.

But plans also call for a six-story hotel on what is now The Courtyards parking lot on Southwest 13th Street, five-story apartments with first-floor retail rising in place of old apartment buildings surrounding the hotel, an eight-story mixed-use project on the northeast corner of Northwest Third Avenue and 13th Street, and a strip of restaurants in the former Presbyterian Student Center.

The only tangible change so far is the imminent opening of the new six-level parking garage with first-floor retail behind Roberts' Stadium Club at 1802 W. University Ave.

The Stadium Club had its first tenants in March with the opening of the How Do You Roll? sushi cafe and Henri Girl Boutique. Community Bank & Trust of Florida plans to open a branch on the first floor and an office on the third floor within the next few months, said John Thomas of Thomas Group Realty, who is handling leasing.

Thomas said he has been talking to restaurants, hair salons and snack food-type businesses that are interested in the remaining first-floor space in the main building and parking garage.

Thomas said interest also has been strong for the office space on the middle floors of the eight-story building.

The main building also has seven apartments for lease on the top two floors, with rents ranging from $1,600 to $6,500 a month, with one already leased, he said.

"We started soliciting less than 10 days ago and already had 30 inquiries," Thomas said.

The majority of inquiries are from retirees and professionals with ties to the university, with another 40 percent coming from students, he said.

The redevelopment of the Presbyterian Student Center with a project called U14 is back on track.

Shortly after one deal to purchase the property fell through, Meir Zuchman — who owns the Spoon Cafe in Keystone, Colo. — bought the property from the Synod of South Atlantic Presbyterian Church in January.

The owner plans to add on to the existing building and create as many as seven suites for restaurants with outdoor dining space and a rooftop deck to open in summer 2014. Burrito Bros. Taco Co. is expected to remain, architect Stephen Bender said.

Bender said the owner is looking at a mix of national and local eateries from quick service to sit-down seating, coffee and ice cream tenants.

He said U14 would have a "symbiotic relationship" with University Corners, whose owners are negotiating with the city over incentives.

"The way the restaurant folks look at it, competition is their best friend," he said.

"I think the student population, and the residential population as well, are capable of supporting a lot more both eating and shopping establishments at the corners of University and 13th."

After buying The Courtyards apartments at 321 SW 13th St. in 2011, Tiforp Development of Destin is planning to redevelop the property over the next five years to include a six-story hotel with conference rooms and a six-level parking garage over existing parking lots, with retail space on the first floor of the parking garage and the first two stories of the part of the hotel that would front 13th Street.

Two aging one- and two-story apartment complexes adjacent to The Courtyards — one at 1236 SW First Ave. and another at 1210 SW Third Ave. — have been approved for demolition to be rebuilt as four- and five-story apartment complexes with first-floor retail space.

Mike Ryals of Bosshardt Realty, who is handling the retail leasing, previously said all the redevelopment projects will increase retail space around the university from 80,000 square feet to more than 200,000 square feet.

Another major redevelopment project to replace an old strip center with an eight-story apartment, retail and office building at 309 and 319 NW 13th St. is apparently on hold.

Property owner RD Management of New York City originally planned to start construction in late 2011 or early 2012, but the work hasn't started, and the developer did not return a call for comment.

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