Committee halts approval of projects

Members of the University’s Campus Development Committee decided Thursday the plans for a new $45 million H. Lee Moffitt office building and a nearby parking garage did not fully assess cost and impact on traffic and parking availability.

“It’s clear it’s going to be a stretch,” USF Chief Financial Officer Carl Carlucci said. “If we don’t create enough reserve spaces at the premium rate, we’re not going to have another garage.”

Without another garage, plans for the next few years could put a strain on parking availability for the entire campus, as most new buildings will be built on top of existing parking lots.

To fund the garages, the Board of Trustees approved a 20 percent increase on the sale of all parking permits in March to help cover the debt for each new parking garage. However, Assistance Vice President for Campus Business Services Jeff Mack said rates may have to be increased more.

Mack said USF is still struggling to pay off the debt service for its first two garages. He said permit prices were not raised accordingly as they were built, which is affecting the University’s ability to fund more new garages without raising permit costs considerably.

Parking Garage III, located off Laurel and Holly drives, should be completed by mid October. When completed, it will house 1,500 spaces.

A fourth parking garage, located off Laurel and Alumni drives, should be completed by fall 2007. It will contain approximately 2,000 spaces.

Moffitt Office Building

The proposed 201,600-square foot office building would contain 10 stories, the tallest building on campus, putting it just 30 feet taller than the Johnny B. Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute. The intended location for the office building is adjacent to the Moffitt Research Institute (MRC) on Magnolia Drive, between the Moffitt Cancer Center and USF Eye Institute. The building’s third floor would connect to the MRC and the walkway to Moffitt.

Construction should begin in early 2008. When completed, a staff of 490 people would move in, with additional space for about 100 more, said Braulio Vicente, vice president of facilities and support services at Moffitt.

“It would free up some space in the Cancer Center,” Vicente said. “It would increase the number of hospital beds, clinical spaces and research labs.”

The footprint for the building would take up about 13 parking spaces, but Vicente said Moffitt would commit to financing 1,000 new spaces.

There are approximately 900 spaces available in the Moffitt parking garage. By the time the office building is completed, Moffitt staff and space requirements could increase by about 500 people, Vicente said.

Sitting in as a guest at the meeting, psychology department chair Emanuel Donchin said he was concerned Moffitt’s parking needs would lessen the number of available parking spaces for his faculty. He said when the department moved into the Psychology / Communication Sciences & Disorders building (PCD) near Moffitt several years ago, faculty paid for a certain number of spots. However, an influx of patients and staff from Moffitt took up some of those spots.

“One day we woke up, and (Moffitt) decided our parking lot would be used for (Moffitt’s) patients and staff,” Donchin said. “We could have used that money to pay for more classrooms. We certainly didn’t pay for parking to support the Moffitt staff.”

As a solution, Donchin proposed Moffitt provide the psychology department with four classrooms.

Committee members also voiced concern over parking and traffic constraints in the area around Moffitt and talked about the possibility of turning one of the new building’s floors into a parking garage.

Parking Garage IV

To fund Parking Garage IV, Director of Parking and Transportation Services Manuel Lopez said rates would have to be increased, and those new spots would have to be sold at the premium price.

Three locations around Moffitt are being looked at for the new garage.

The Next Move

Director of Facilities Planning Ron Hanke said the two proposals would have to be approved at another CDC meeting sometime in the next two or three weeks to get to the next phase of negotiations.

For the parking garage, financing would have to be approved and a definite location would have to be selected. Planners involved with the Moffitt office building would also have to work a flexible parking alternative into their plan.

“We ought to thank our lucky stars we’ve made a decision not to grow the number of students at this campus aggressively,” Vice Provost Ralph Wilcox said. “If we could convince the students and faculty to offer more classes in the early or later hours of the day, a lot of our problems would be solved, at least for the short term.”