UF rules out international center proposal

Virginia

Southeast / Virginia 9 Views

University of Florida officials on Monday said they still don’t know what will be built in place of Leonardo’s By The Slice, but they know what they don’t want.

UF officials have officially ruled out constructing an international center on the corner of West University Avenue and Southwest 13th Street, despite support from city officials.

“We’re certainly a university with a global perspective — we already have an international center on campus,” said Susan Crowley, UF’s assistant vice president for community relations. “But that’s just not one of the ideas that has been gaining traction (with UF) for the corner of University and 13th.”

Crowley said she could not comment on other candidate projects for the corner, but UF officials have already said they are considering placing a school of music and fitness center at the location.

“With the size of our campus and the amount of programs we have, lots of different people would like to do something with that corner,” she said.

In August 2016, the UF Foundation put its stamp on the iconic Gainesville intersection after it purchased Leonardo’s By The Slice, at 1245 W. University Ave. UF also bought the pizza shop’s surrounding 0.4-acre property. The school already owns the Circle K gas station and convenience store next door to Leonardo’s, along with the vacant lot behind the pizza joint.

Steve Kalishman, executive director of Sister City Program of Gainesville Inc., has been pushing for the international center and said he was disappointed to learn Monday that it wouldn’t happen. His proposal was that the center would be a hub dedicated to fostering increased internationalism by providing a conference space, classes, international job training, restaurants, and unique retail shops with 18-hour-a-day activity.

Kalishman said school officials may have been upset with recent media coverage that suggested the center would be built, but Crowley said that wasn’t the case.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” he said. “I think it'd be an amazing collaboration right there.”

Kalishman said he still believes the international center will get built somewhere in Gainesville.

He previously told The Sun that UF’s current international center is buried in the middle of UF’s campus and a change to a prime location would help drive the city and UF’s goal for growth.

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe also supported the idea and has said the city has been discussing establishing a center for years.

Comments