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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

UCF President John Hitt says new downtown campus will be a "game changer"

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 6:36 PM

Architectural rendering of what Creative Village could look like someday.
  • Architectural rendering of what Creative Village could look like someday.

Architectural rendering of what Creative Village could look like someday.

Today UCF President John Hitt finally confirmed what has been in the works for months: UCF will be expanding into downtown Orlando. The school, which has been focused intently on building its own university-centric community on the east side of town, is planning to bring a $200 million campus to downtown.

This isn't really "new" news – way back when the Creative Village was but a twinkle in local developer Craig Ustler's eye, UCF announced its intention to play a role in the project, and UCF and Valencia have been part of the vision for Creative Village, as well. According to Hitt, UCF and Valencia will team up to bring "approximately 10,000 students" to the proposed downtown campus, as well as faculty and staff. "We see an invigorating presence that will add vitality to Orlando's flourishing downtown," he said during a breakfast meeting this morning.

There's just one catch: Somebody's going to have to figure out how to fund this thing. Oh, and everybody besides the powers that be in Orlando City Hall and UCF need to sign off on it.

"A number of essential stakeholders need to join us in common cause to realize our vision," Hitt said this morning. "In addition to the City of Orlando, UCF, Valencia College, and Orange County Public Schools, these stakeholders include Orange County government; other county, state, and federal agencies; our elected representatives in Congress; and, of course, our state lawmakers.

Without funding, we cannot proceed with an expanded downtown campus. And, even with funding, we will need the active engagement of you, our civic-minded supporters, along with your businesses and organizations."

In other news, the Orlando Business Journal reported today that the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center will be folded into the Creative Village development as well, though nobody knows for sure in what form. Perplexingly and entertainingly, though, Mayor Buddy Dyer threw this idea out there to the OBJ today: Maybe it'll become a gaming center, where giant groups of people come together to play World of Warcraft. Imagine that.

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