TAMPA — The University of South Florida's Board of Trustees is set to vote this morning on one of the university's most ambitious projects ever: building a downtown medical school.
In October, a subcommittee of eight trustees who oversee USF Health's medical and educational arms voted unanimously to endorse building the new Morsani College of Medicine in downtown Tampa. The university wants to build a 12-story building that would house the medical school and the USF Heart Health Institute. Today the full board must vote on the proposal.
An urban medical school is on the verge of reality because of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. He offered to donate a piece of his downtown property to USF to make the project happen. That donation would fulfill a key condition laid down by USF president Judy Genshaft, who said the university would not buy the land to build a downtown medical school.
The new medical school would also be an important part of Vinik's plans to redevelop the barren 24 acres he owns downtown around the Amalie Arena. Vinik's new development arm, Strategic Property Partners, would also build a medical office building and parking garage next to the new USF tower, which would be at the corner of Channelside Drive and S Meridian Avenue.
If the trustees approve the project, the next step would be to get state funding from the Florida Board of Governors when it next meets in January.