Faculty housing plan underway

Plans are in the works to build 1,200 apartments, town homes and single-family homes for UM faculty as a part of a walkable community at the university’s South Campus location off SW 152 Ave. and the turnpike, near Miami MetroZoo.

“This is a major undertaking,” Jerry Lewis, vice president for University Communications, said. “It’ll be not just housing, but a town environment.”

According to Sarah N. Artecona, assistant vice president for media and community relations, the community will include a town center with 40,000 square feet of retail space, which may be used for a neighborhood banking center and a small grocer, in addition to 50,000 square feet of office space.

She also said that the university is working with Miami-Dade County to build a public library and a public magnet school for math and science in the town center.

“Currently the university doesn’t have anything built there,” Artecona said. “The land is being underutilized.”

Other planned amenities include an extension of the campus Wellness Center, a UM-run medical clinic and an extension of the university’s Life Long Learning Center.

“I think this will be a great draw for faculty,” Lewis said. “It won’t be like any other suburban development. This will be a little more contained as a town.”

Besides having everything within walking distance, the university hopes to have a Tri-Rail extension built to connect to the Metro-rail stop at the Civic Center, enabling a quicker commute to the Miller School of Medicine for faculty, Artecona said.

This community will be the second large-scale faculty housing project the university is undertaking. Four Fillies Farm, a community of single-family homes, is currently under construction five miles south of the Coral Gables campus.

As with the Four Fillies project, this community will be built with preservation in mind, with about 45 acres of pineland to be set aside, according to Artecona.

Lillian Manzor, associate professor of Spanish, thinks the South Campus plan is a good idea and is long overdue.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s another option, I would say it’s the only option since Four Fillies is so expensive,” Manzor said. “Most universities have faculty housing and we don’t. It’s a plan that should have taken place a while ago.”

Artecona said the South Campus Village will be affordable for faculty and staff in a broad range of income levels.

According to Artecona, DPZ, Dover Kohl and Rodriguez & Quiroga are the architectural firms are working on conceptual planning for the community and vying for the design contract. She also said that they are all affiliated with the university, either as teachers or graduates.

The South Campus Village title is subject to change, according to Artecona, as it is still in the pre-development phase. Ground could be broken as early as the end of 2007, she said.

Greg Linch can be contacted at g.linch@umiami.edu.