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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

UF set to build new honors residential complex

A new honors housing complex will replace Broward Outdoor Recreational Complex

A person wearing a UF sweatshirt rides past a construction site on Museum Road across from the Reitz Union on Friday, March 19, 2021. (Photo by Chasity Maynard)
A person wearing a UF sweatshirt rides past a construction site on Museum Road across from the Reitz Union on Friday, March 19, 2021. (Photo by Chasity Maynard)

Next year, UF will tear down a recreational complex students use for its size and proximity to campus to make room for more honors housing.

The Gator Residential Complex, an undergraduate dormitory for honors students, will replace the Broward Outdoor Recreational Complex in 2022, UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldan wrote in an email. UF officials don’t know when demolition will start, Roldan wrote. The complex behind Broward Hall contains tennis courts, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a skate park, a roller hockey rink and a pool. 

The future housing complex will consist of four residential buildings — each five stories tall —  and a two-story common area building. The $250 million project will include 1,400 beds reserved for honors students. It will be 420,000 square feet, according to the UF Board of Trustees’ Committee on Finance

The Broward Outdoor Recreational Complex will move to a new location, but it is unknown where or when, Sara Tanner, director of marketing and communications at UF’s Division of Student Affairs, wrote in an email. 

The building is expected to be complete by August 2024, but the Board of Trustees is pushing for an earlier completion by Summer 2023, Chris Cowen, UF’s CFO, said at the Board of Trustees meeting March 19. 

Additionally, rental rates for graduate and undergraduate students will rise for the first time in four years by 4.5% starting July 1, Roldan wrote, to account for rising operational costs like salaries and cost of materials at UF’s Department of Housing and Residence Education. The department mostly depends on rent collection for revenue. It brought in about $255,000 from rent in 2018, according to its most recent tax filing.

UF will continue exploring new construction and renovation projects but has no plans for any new housing buildings beyond the Gator Residential Complex, she wrote.

Meanwhile, two of the five graduate housing buildings are set to be demolished because repairing them would be too expensive, according to UF. The plan would cause a 40% drop in available graduate housing at a time when affordable housing is becoming more scarce in Gainesville.

While UF plans to demolish the Broward Outdoor Recreational Complex sometime next year to make way for the Gator Residential Complex, some students are surprised to see it go.

Vincent Ludwig, a 21-year-old UF civil engineering junior, uses the tennis courts at the Broward Outdoor Recreational Complex about twice a week. He was shocked to hear about the demolition plans.

“I would prefer they (the courts) stay because I like using them,” Ludwig said. “But if they (UF) need the space for more housing, well then I guess that’s up to them.”

David Torino, a 20-year-old UF accounting junior, started using the basketball courts more frequently the last couple of months because they’re much closer to him than the ones at Southwest Recreation Center. He said commuting to Southwest would be inconvenient.

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“I think it’s a shame because on this side of campus, there aren’t any basketball courts besides these,” he said. 

Although this is UF’s biggest construction project at the moment, construction continues in areas surrounding the Reitz Union, McCarty Hall, the O’Connell Center and UF’s Police department as the campus remains expanding.

Contact Alexander Lugo at Follow him on Twitter @AlexLugo67.

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Alexander Lugo

Alex is a fourth-year journalism student at UF and is in his third semester at The Alligator where he is serving as the university editor. He previously reported on university administration and the city and county commission. In his free time, he enjoys video games, traveling and being outdoors.

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