FIU expansion to 86 acres receives boost from county commissioners

by Eduardo Merille

FIU’s plans to expand to 86 acres adjacent to the Modesto A. Maidique Campus have received a boost from county commissioners.

On Thursday, July 17, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners unanimously agreed to direct Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his administration to meet with and negotiate with all stakeholders, including FIU and the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition, to create a plan and schedule for the relocation of the Fair, which currently leases the county-owned land next to FIU. The motion was co-sponsored by commissioners Juan C. Zapata, Esteban Bovo and Jose “Pepe” Diaz.

The relocation would be at no cost to the county. Earlier this year, state legislators granted $10 million to FIU for its strategic land acquisition initiatives. FIU will continue to work with the state to secure the funds necessary to relocate the Fair.

The commissioners on Thursday directed county administrators to bring their recommendations, along with recommendations for FIU’s future use of the land, for consideration at the Sept. 3 commission meeting. Commissioners also requested that on that date county administrators bring recommended ballot language for a countywide voter referendum on the matter.

President Mark B. Rosenberg said FIU officials look forward to working with the county and the Fair to find a solution that will be agreeable to county residents, the fair and FIU.

“We want to thank the Miami-Dade County Commission and Mayor Carlos Gimenez for their support of our efforts to work with county and fair officials to identify an appropriate site to relocate the fair at no cost to the county so that FIU can make use of the 86 acres adjacent to our campus,” Rosenberg said. “This is about more and better jobs and educational opportunities for our community. We look forward to making significant progress to find a win – win – win solution.”

In the fall of 2010, FIU, Miami-Dade County and the Fair established a task force to help identify a new location for the fair. So far, 24 sites in Miami-Dade County have been studied. FIU’s longstanding position is to support the option that is most economically feasible.

FIU officials estimate that the expansion will bring an investment of $900 million in construction – with an impact of $1.8 billion – and in the long term create thousands of jobs and nurture entrepreneurship. The annual recurring economic impact of the expansion is estimated at $541 million.

FIU has 54,000 students and is adding 2,000 students each year. Of all the state universities, it is the second in terms of student population, yet the main campus occupies the smallest area of land in the state university system.

Projects envisioned for the 86 acres include:

  • Academic and research space with an emphasis in the STEM fields, including classrooms, labs and office space
  • Partnership space to promote the academic and research mission of the university with a focus on community economic development, entrepreneurship and commercialization of scientific and research findings
  • The expansion will allow for the accelerated development of a medical city on the campus

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