The members of the Business Enterprises Inc. Board of Directors announced Friday, April 12, that they were close to choosing a master developer for the University Park and Northwest Village construction projects.
Nine development firms applied to build the new facilities, which will include a stadium, student housing and a retirement community. The Board of Directors has whittled the list of nine down to three finalists:
American Campus Communities, Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions and KUD International.
The staff at American Campus Communities, a Texas-based company, has developed, acquired or managed more than 200 student housing properties at over 173 colleges and universities, the company’s website said.
Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions of Pennsylvania has completed a wide portfolio of multifamily, military and student housing projects.
New York-based KUD International has built aquariums in Florida and California, as well as developed professional sports stadiums in San Francisco and Philadelphia, according to the KUD website.
Each of the three firms will submit a detailed proposal describing how they will finance, operate and build the University Park and Northwest Village facilities. The staff at BEI will choose the firm with the most viable proposal as master developer.
James Barnett, interim CEO of BEI, said the vision, capability and judgment of the master developer will play a large role in what facilities and amenities are ultimately built, but that regardless he said that he expects the results to be exceptional.
“Our Campus Master Plan is very dynamic,” he said in the meeting. “It’s a game changer.”
The Board of Directors indicated that the master plan is progressing smoothly overall.
There will be a groundbreaking ceremony on June 11 for the East Village construction project, and Scenic Hills Country Club, which was purchased by the University of West Florida last year, and has been performing beyond the board’s expectations.
“We’ve recruited 36 new memberships,” David O’Brien, associate vice president for business and property development, said. “We lost 15 memberships, but 10 were military transfers.”
O’Brien said that both new and established members of the country club had been very complimentary of the club under UWF’s management.
UWF President Judy Bense said that it had been vital for BEI to knock its first project out of the park to build trust and goodwill from the community.
“The first thing had to be really good,” she said in the meeting. “There was a lot of pressure on the first endeavor.”
Bense did say in the meeting that there had been one setback involving the Campus Master Plan. The Florida Legislature indicated that the university could not create new student fees to fund the football initiative.
However, the president remained optimistic.
“I’m not going to let that stop us,” she said. “We will find lots of other ways to skin that cat.”