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BUILDING SOUTH: A look into UM’s South Campus Village project (Part 1)

This is part one of a three-part in-depth report on South Campus. Parts 2 and 3 may be found with the remainder of the News section.

See Sarah Artecona, assistant vice president for media and community relations, has heard the calls for affordable faculty housing. In a staggering South Florida real estate market, the university is increasingly attempting to provide reasonable housing options for its faculty.

“When faculty comes here, one of the first things they ask is, ‘Do you offer housing?'” she said.

She said that construction is planned to begin in 2010 or 2011 on the South Campus Village, which will offer 1,100 units of affordable housing to UM faculty. The Village will be located at 12500 S.W. 152 St.

The development will take the form of a small community, with plans for a town center with minimal automobile traffic and retailers on the first floors of buildings. There will be a variety of residences available, including apartments, condominiums, single-family homes and townhouses.

UM faculty and administrative staff will be offered the opportunity to live in the community first, but the community may not fill up with UM employees.

“We would consider opening [the village]to the general public” Artecona said.

While there is, as of yet, no established price range for the planned community, there will be an emphasis on affordability. Artecona said the university has been working with Fannie Mae to develop mortgage funding for residents. But even with affordability in mind, the community will not lack amenities.

Plans are in the works for a Tri-Rail stop to be established in the area, which is near the Miami MetroZoo. With Tri-Rail access, residents would be able to connect to the MetroRail and travel all the way to the University stop on Ponce de Leon Boulevard. There are also plans for a wellness center, a public library and a high school focused on math and science.

Rose Diamond, chief facilities officer for Miami-Dade public schools, said the high school’s design process should begin next year and anticipates that construction on the project will commence in 2008 or 2009.

“There’s a huge need in that area for not only a school, but a school that focuses on math and science,” Artecona said.

In addition, there may be a 24/7 medical center in the community that would be operated by the Miller School of Medicine.

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, dean of the School of Architecture, has been involved in designing the community. Like Artecona, she acknowledged that UM is undertaking a project similar to some at other universities, but she believes that the South Campus Village will be a unique faculty community.

“I wouldn’t call it a trend, but there are other examples of universities developing land. It seems to be an appealing and good thing to do,” Plater-Zyberk said. “There are other examples, but no formulas to copy.”

Other universities that provide faculty housing are often land-grant universities with massive acreages that dwarf UM’s properties, Artecona noted.

Plater-Zyberk also said the retail that will be installed in the community will not be anything as large-scale as a chain supermarket. But there will be at least one restaurant, and basic necessities will be available in the community.

“Certainly, you would be able to go out and buy a cup of coffee and a newspaper,” Plater-Zyberk said. “[The South Campus Village] will be designed to bring the community together and engender a sense of community.”

The next step of the project is to apply for and obtain zoning rights from the Miami-Dade County Commission, which Plater-Zyberk hopes will happen within a year, if not sooner.

Bryan Page, a professor in the Anthropology department, sees the planned development as a step in the right direction.

“Given the way housing costs are going in Dade County, it may be attractive to faculty, especially if they can avail themselves of something like a metro system. For somebody just starting out, it’s really tough in a number of ways [to find adequate, affordable housing],” he said. “It portends well for the university.”

Hunter Umphrey may be contacted at humphrey@miami.edu.

BUILDING SOUTH PART 2 : UM: Environmental issues to be addressed at Village site

BUILDING SOUTH PART 3 : Permit will allow building on land with rare plants

November 17, 2006

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The Miami Hurricane

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