USF approved for newsurgical center downtown

USF’s long-awaited plan to build a surgical training center will finally be realized in the former Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit (HART) parking lot in downtown Tampa.

The University’s $3.5 million bid for the lot was approved by the Tampa City Council on Thursday, and construction on the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS), which university spokesman Michael Hoad said has been in the works for “a couple years,” is expected to begin in January.

The building itself will cost upwards of $20 million, Hoad said, and is projected to create 35 to 40 new jobs in the downtown area and book 13,000 downtown hotel rooms annually.

According to a release, the facility will provide 56,000 square feet for four “core centers” in which surgeons from around the world could receive training in minimally invasive and computer-assisted surgery.

Two laboratories – one for “advanced surgical skills” and the other for “research and innovations” – will allow surgeons to practice with and test prototype devices and techniques. CAMLS will also house an auditorium large enough to accommodate 150 people and a “virtual hospital” simulation center.

The lot is located at 102 S. Franklin St. – a location that Senior Vice President for USF Health Stephen Klasko named as the “only viable location” for the facility in a letter to Mayor Pam Iorio in April.

“This is a promising proposal because there are hotels nearby, and, therefore, this site doesn’t need a hotel development,” Hoad said. “The trick is that the site has to include a facility for training – which USF Health would build – hotel beds, parking and an attractive location for out-of-town visitors. That’s why it has taken a while to sift through the various sites.”

The University submitted the only bid for the land at the end of May, which, according to a Request for Proposals issued by the city of Tampa, is intended to “encourage the development of a medical, educational and simulation complex that could stimulate the development of other businesses pertaining to the medical technology industry.”