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Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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USF St. Pete in talks to buy legal services building

ST. PETERSBURG — The University of South Florida is planning to buy the Gulfcoast Legal Services Center downtown, providing the St. Petersburg campus with much-needed academic support space on a tract abutting the campus.

Under a proposal, the university would pay $775,000 for the one-third acre parcel, which includes 10,000 square feet of space and 17 parking spaces at 641 First St. S. In documents prepared for a meeting of the USF Board of Trustees' Finance & Audit Workgroup Thursday, USF St. Petersburg said that while teaching, learning and student life space has been expanded and upgraded during the last several years with construction of the Science and Technology building, the new University Student Center and renovation of the Student Life Center, “academic support functions continue to languish.”

University spokesman Tom Scherberger said the facility would most likely house the university's graduate admissions staff, which has seven people scattered at different locations around campus.

“This will make things much more convenient for everybody, for students as well as staff and administration,” he said.

The building is “essentially ready to go,” Scherberger said, with some minor safety, asbestos and soil improvements required.

The growing St. Petersburg campus is also building a business school at the site of the “Piano Man” building now being used for faculty offices and classrooms. Business classes are now scattered throughout seven different buildings.

And USF St. Petersburg has also expressed interest in acquiring real estate around the downtown headquarters of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, although no deal is currently on the table.

The St. Petersburg campus is now home to 4,772 students and faculty and staff of 776.

The Gulfcoast Legal Services deal is included in the St. Petersburg campus' master plan approved in 2011 and is high on a priority list for the USF System, comprising the Manatee-Sarasota, St. Petersburg and main Tampa campuses.

Representatives of Gulfcoast did not respond to requests for information on its future.

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