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JaxNole

UNF Communicates Master Plan

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From UNF's site: http://www.unf.edu/development/news/new_we...master-plan.htm

UNF has experienced growing pains in recent years and is poised to transform the campus into a more traditional university. Parking is at an even higher premium, facilities need to be gutted to be code-compliant and more first time in college students with higher credentials are matriculating. This is a test site, but the information is accurate.

Recent projects include:

1. A new science and engineering complex across from the arena

2. Thomas G. Carpenter Library expansion, with renovation of existing structure to follow upon completion

3. Site clearing for a new Social Sociences building

4. Wi-Fi hotspots

5. Admission to NCAA Division I

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Good to hear UNF is moving on up. I always believed it had more potential than it was doing. It bothered me to see other state universities with such high respects and acknowledgements compared to UNF. Hopefully, this will help even it out.

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Too bad, UNF couldn't have been located in downtown or the urban core.

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^ Go read UNF's 2000 "masterplan" for the physical campus (as opposed to fundraising or academic masterplans). It is a purposefully anti-urban document - and their campus design certainly reflects that. They talk about creating "urban" and "pedestrian" environments, but the actual meat-n-potatoes of the plan calls for strict height limits, large setbacks, large surface parking lots, and huge nature preserves physically separating the campus from other development.

With Delaney in charge, I expect some of these ultra-sprawl regulations to fall by the wayside (as evidenced by a new 6 story building, and a parking garage replacing surface lots). But the overall feel of the campus will likely remain decidedly suburban and auto-centric.

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They talk about creating "urban" and "pedestrian" environments, but the actual meat-n-potatoes of the plan calls for strict height limits, large setbacks, large surface parking lots, and huge nature preserves physically separating the campus from other development.

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Sadly, that is true, but opposition has been mounting the past year and students have become more vocal. One of my friends was quoted in the paper, saying it was time to dismiss the environmentalists and slash and burn the trees on the eastern ridge (fronting Kernan) and open it up for development.

What's happening with campus, which Delaney has described as a paradigm shift, is to create the campus so that the loop will have limited access to parking. The area inside the loop will eventually be replaced by other facilities. We are constantly losing parking spaces and that is the reason the newest parking lots are outside the loop. Both are a good 15 minute brisk walk away from the inner campus.

Another parking garage will be built, bringing the total to three. Because of the nature of UNF when it first opened, the student population consisted of commuters, but now more and more traditional students are on campus. UNF is only 30 years old, but it is evolving. There's been heated debate in Student Government about restricting freshman parking to the north end of campus by Central Parkway. I know UF and FSU have restricted parking and only upper-division students are allowed to park close to campus.

A new master plan will be released shortly before classes begin. I expect more information will be released about land that has been or will be purchased where the First Coast Technology Park failed miserably. There are other development ideas I heard when I worked for Institutional Advancement. Donations to the university are on the rise and I think another capital campaign will be launched in the next few years. Good things are brewing!

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One of my friends was quoted in the paper, saying it was time to dismiss the environmentalists and slash and burn the trees on the eastern ridge (fronting Kernan) and open it up for development.

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Your friend has the right idea, I think. Just from a cursory overview of the campus, it seems like they could keep the southern wetlands if they really wanted, but that they should open up the northeastern and northwestern edges of campus for development. Imagine tree-lined medium density residential neighborhoods along a street grid with townhomes, rowhouses, and/or duplexes for student living.

Honestly, it would be the most environmentally friendly thing to do. All the surrounding area is being developed anyway. It's stupid to try to create a "wildlife" or "nature" area isolated in the midst of all those highways and strip malls. If they really want to be enviromentalists, they should create walkable neighborhoods on campus land .... and for every acre they develop, perhaps use the profits to buy two or three (or more) acres of true conservation land out on the fringes of the county and/or next to established conservation areas.

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UNF is one of the least efficient schools I have visited, they are definitely going to need a lot of help. As it stands right now, it reminds me more of a community college than an actual University.

The reason I became interested in urban planning and development in the first place was due to my experience at FSU. Sure it's faux urban, but having everything you need and thousands of people living, working and learning in a two square mile area really is the best life I could imagine. When I transfered to UNF (which I knew obviously couldn't compete with FSU/UF/USF/UCF or Miami) I was pretty disappointed at the school though. It had elements of a high school and community college, an ugly, inefficent flat design reminiscent of aerial shots of Area 51 and a design that says "come here for classes, but don't stay too long". Even if the school does get Division 1 status, I can't imagine any more school spirit ensuing than there is now. The campus just doesn't have the charm of FSU or UF, nor does it come close to matching comparable schools like The University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida.

I agree that the huge surface lots are definitely a problem, the new library redesign has actually made it uglier, and the school is budgeting money on inane things like a SKATE PARK on campus.

I'm not trying to knock the school just for the sake of it, but it's tough to make people love a campus and want to live on it and send their kids to it and when it has the look and feel of an office park. They need to bring the dorms closer to the actual school, build up instead of out, tackle the parking problem and most importantly, make people care about the school as more than a place to come from class a few mornings a week.

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I think the UNF nature trails (on the south end of campus) are a great asset to the university. There aren't too many places in Jacksonville (especially on the Southside) where you can jog 3 miles in the woods on public property.

However, it seems UNF was definitely designed to be isolated from the city, enmeshed in some kind of nature preserve. I can't tell that the design had anything to do with education - it seems more like somebody's anti-urban fantasy from the early 70s. Great universities interact well with their cities and this is clearly an area for improvement for UNF. The fact that there is not a single off-campus store within reasonable walking distance from a 10000+ student university is appalling.

Nothing can be done about the existing campus, but I like the idea of gridding out some of the surrounding lands for mixed use development. If done right, it could even create a university neighborhood around UNF, as exists in many cities with well integrated universities.

On a slightly different topic, I heard that building 11 (25 years old?) is going to be demolished due to mold. While that fact is somewhat disturbing, it will open up land near the center of campus. I'm guessing it will be the first building to be demolished in UNF's history.

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UNF is one of the least efficient schools I have visited, they are definitely going to need a lot of help. As it stands right now, it reminds me more of a community college than an actual University.

...

It had elements of a high school and community college, an ugly, inefficent flat design reminiscent of aerial shots of Area 51 and a design that says "come here for classes, but don't stay too long".

I didn't know you transferred to UNF. Welcome! Unfortunately, I agree with you, but UNF was a product of the 1960s mentality and designed to cater to non-traditional students. There's been a push the last few years to draw more first time in college students and that has fueled the addition of more housing. The Crossings is the newest complex and all rooms have been made into triple occupancy because of the unanticipated demand. Some students who wish to live on campus are placed on a waiting list because of the crowding. New housing will be placed on the eastern ridge.

Even if the school does get Division 1 status, I can't imagine any more school spirit ensuing than there is now. The campus just doesn't have the charm of FSU or UF, nor does it come close to matching comparable schools like The University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida.

All of those schools have been around much longer, have higher enrollments or both in comparison to UNF. In addition, there used to be a small percentage of incoming freshmen who lived in the dorms. Only in recent years have more students been living on campus, which has fueled the interest in becoming more involved. When I lived on campus in Boston freshman year, I sensed the feeling of community, being plopped in the middle of a floor with 50 other people. If I had lived off campus, I surely would not have spent so much time participating in all the activities I did while living in the dorms.

I worked in a department at UNF that handles incoming donations and there has been an increase in the amount of donations from alumni. The majority of gifts has been private, but alumni are more willing to show their loyalty through donations. Sure, the endowment is much smaller than many other universities, but the numbers I viewed on a daily basis provide a strong indication a transformation is occuring.

I agree that the huge surface lots are definitely a problem, the new library redesign has actually made it uglier, and the school is budgeting money on inane things like a SKATE PARK on campus.

I opposed the skate park during the spring elections since it was part of the winning faction's platform. I thought there would be better uses for that money, but we're stuck with it. Yes, the school is budgeting money, but it's coming from an account that only Student Government can allocate. President Delaney and other administrators do not have the power to overturn this SG decision. I don't like it, but it's not like the Board of Trustees commissioned a consultancy to implement the skate park.

They need to bring the dorms closer to the actual school, build up instead of out, tackle the parking problem and most importantly, make people care about the school as more than a place to come from class a few mornings a week.

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I lived in the dorms of a truly urban campus (Boston University) as well as at FSU (McCollum) and UF (Yulee). The UNF dorms are as close, if not closer, to the campus core as the other universities. Walking from even the most remote dorms (The Crossings) takes only 10 minutes. When I lived in McCollum, I'd have to walk at least that, if not more, just to get my mail. I had an even longer walk at UF to get to my classes at the engineering building.

Parking is being addressed through outer lots to encourage leaving the cars behind and actually walking, like at most universities. The student union will be at the center of the entire campus, wetlands and all. It's been designed so that it will be centrally located to future developments as well. To accomodate students without transportation, a convenience store will also be at the new union. Dining options have been expanded and a program is in the works to shuttle students from campus to the St. Johns Town Center so they can shop and eat.

I'd like to see more vertical development as well, but the goal of the university is not (yet) to have a large student population. Enrollment is roughly 15,000, possibly 16,000 when fall semester starts and 20,000 is the target. UNF wants to offer a setting reminiscent of a private college and I think it has succeeded in that until you reach the parking lots. Aside from that, I visited campuses that had numerous quads and greenery. Harvard, MIT and Boston College are excellent examples of this.

I was born here and I spent many hours at the library during high school. Since I've graduated, a lot of open greens and parking lots have been taken to make way for the arena, both parking garages, the Fine Arts Center, athletic facilities and housing. The newer classroom buildings are at least three stories and the Social Sciences and Education buildings will follow the same pattern.

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Great universities interact well with their cities and this is clearly an area for improvement for UNF.  The fact that there is not a single off-campus store within reasonable walking distance from a 10000+ student university is appalling.

Yes, that is one of the major complaints I hear from students living on campus. I didn't mind picking up my friends and taking them to run errands because I know walking or even biking on St. Johns Bluff would be terrible. At least a convenience store will be housed at the new union, dining options are and have been expanded and the shuttle service to the SJTC will be available.

Nothing can be done about the existing campus, but I like the idea of gridding out some of the surrounding lands for mixed use development.  If done right, it could even create a university neighborhood around UNF, as exists in many cities with well integrated universities.

There were failed attempts to purchase Melrose for the purpose of making it a student village. I'm glad it didn't work out. There's promise, though, now that land has been acquired from the First Coast Technology Park. There will be a realignment of Kernan to accomodate new housing and a more defined eastern entrance. Nothing has been released, but I have spoken with higher-ups on campus and this is a 10 year realistic goal.

On a slightly different topic, I heard that building 11 (25 years old?) is going to be demolished due to mold. 

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Yes, the Social Sciences building is being moved to the opposite side of campus, across from Founders Hall. It eliminated a large amount of parking, but I think we have been spoiled with our parking situation. I'd love to have a minimal amount of cars in the middle of campus to make way for upgraded and new facilities. The relatively new Coggin College of Business is also slated for an expansion. Many of my classes are held in the auditorium and I hope with the expansion it will promote smaller sections for the business core curriculum. Some students prefer and perform better in small settings.

Here is a better, zoomable (is that a word?) map of UNF from the College of Computing, Engineering and construction: http://www.unf.edu/ccec/facilities/LocationMapCCEC50.pdf

This one divides the campus and provides detail of the different structures: http://www.unf.edu/campus/

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