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BOT Finance Committee approves funding for research institute

The Board of Trustees will decide whether or not to approve the budget request for the research institute at its next meeting June 6. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

The Board of Trustees (BOT) Finance Committee approved the financial plan for the USF Research Park Laboratory and Office Project.

This project entails building a 120,000 square-foot, three-story facility will require $42 million to fund. The building will be located at the southeastern corner of USF Research Park and on the northeastern corner of Spectrum Boulevard and Fowler Avenue.

The University of South Florida Research Foundation (USFRF) trains and supports students in research and technology for economic development in the Tampa region.

The building will offer a space to strengthen USF’s life sciences and technology research as well as supporting new programs.

If the project is approved on Oct 30, the design process will begin immediately so that the project can be completed by January 2021.

The USF Financing Corporation (USFFC) will contribute a maximum of $27 million in revenue bond and $15 million in cash equity, according to the finance report.

The cost breakdown includes $27 million for the design — retail and dining amenities included — and construction, $10 million for tenant improvements, $2.4 million for capitalized interest, $2.4 million for the debt service reserve and $112,000 for issuance.

The project was proposed for two reasons: To expand Research Park and to increase USF’s marketplace.

The research facilities currently on campus are experiencing mechanical failures. Some of the equipment was installed in 1992 and has exceeded its 25-year lifespan. Also, there have been issues with leaking pipes and valve system failures, according to the finance report.

There are 30,000 workers across USF’s life sciences and medical institutions with 1,600 employees specifically in Research Park.

According to a report conducted by the Board of Governors, USF uses only 36 percent of its minimum required space for a research lab. The University of Florida uses 57 percent and Florida State University uses 75 percent.

The USFRF mission states that it plans to use its 112-acre site to create a research hub like the Laboratory and Office project.

The USFRF has to gain approval of the BOT on June 6. The research foundation has to prepare materials to present to the BOG by July 31.