Friday, December 15, 2017
Education

Saint Leo University plans new plant operations center, amphitheater and art studio

ST. LEO — Replacing an operations plant doesn't sound like an exciting project for Saint Leo's newly acquired property, administrators admit, but plans for the freed up space will be.

An art studio is slated to take the spot of the plant, which houses the university maintenance department and stores tools and other heavy equipment. Those functions will move to new land on the far western edge of the land bought in October from the Benedictine Sisters of Florida.

That property currently houses Holy Name Monastery, and the nuns plan to move next year to a new home across the street.

"Our current operations plant is right smack in the middle of campus," said Jeanne Plecenik, vice president of business affairs. "It kind of makes more sense."

A warehouse also will be built next to new operations plant.

Plecenik said the new buildings will be landscaped and designed to be compatible with the other peach and cream-colored buildings on campus.

"We'll have it blend in and look nice," he said. "Nobody wants to drive by and see a warehouse."

Administrators hope to make the move quickly.

"It'll be done in December," Plecenik said. "It's always easiest to do big moves when we don't have students here."

The plans come after the university paid $3.9 million for 37 acres, which are next to St. Leo Abbey and the university, which has grown rapidly in recent years.

Enrollment is booming, and Saint Leo has added several facilities in the past couple of years, including two new residence halls, expanded sports facilities and a 50,000-square-foot building housing the School of Business.

Other plans include razing Crawford Hall, where the art students currently study, and replacing it with a new academic building in 2015.

An amphitheater also is planned for this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of Saint Leo serving military bases. Officials hope to have that done by Veterans Day. It will be set into the hill overlooking Lake Jovita, next to the library.

"This is going to be an exciting two years for Saint Leo at University campus," said Cynthia Brannen, chairwoman of the university's board of trustees and a 1992 graduate. "We hope the community comes to visit us often for concerts, events and activities."

As for the old monastery, plans have not been announced, but Plecenik said it will likely house offices.

"That's the simplest conversion," she said. "Our faculty is growing."

A lake house also on the property will most likely be renovated.

"We'd like to have some large meeting spaces," Plecenik said.

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