UF Moves Forward With Reitz Union Renovation Despite Funding Gap
Published May 2nd, 2013
GAINESVILLE - Despite a funding setback from the state legislature, University of Florida officials say they will soon get underway on a planned renovation project at the Reitz Student Union.
On Monday, state lawmakers rejected a plan that would have raised an extra $23 million for the project, putting the renovations in jeopardy. But according to UF officials, that's not stopping the university from moving forward.
Current plans call for a new 100,000 square-foot addition to the existing building, something that will provide students with more study areas, as well as additional office space for the nearly 1,000 student organizations that are headquartered at the Reitz.
Despite already having $65 million on hand for the project, UF was still about $10 million short from reaching the final price tag of $75 million.
Officials were banking on student fees held by the state in a Capital Improvement Trust Fund. However, the state Legislature needed to approve the issuance of bonds using that money, an action that would have generated an extra $33 million, more than enough to cover that gap.
But because the legislature did not approve the bonds, UF is now left to try and fill a $10 million dollar funding gap.
While renovations to the Reitz will move forward, plans to turn UF's historic Newell Hall into an electronic library may not. UF was hoping to use some of that money generated from bonds in order to fund that project. Unless funding is found from other sources, the century-old building in the heart of campus will remain vacant.
UF's former Student Body President TJ Villamil worked hard to try and get the legislature to approve this bond issuance. He called their failure to approve the move "unprecedented" considering the Legislature normally approves this action every four years.
As of Wednesday evening, there is no word on how the University plans to fill this $10 million dollar gap.
Regardless, demolition of the old Reitz Union colonnade is expected to get underway this summer. Construction will then get underway in the fall, with the new Union scheduled to be completed sometime in 2015.
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