Investigates: Secret details revealed about proposed UF campus that could cost $200M

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax investigator Ben Becker has learned new secret details about the proposed University of Florida campus in Downtown Jacksonville that was announced to great fanfare recently, but with very few details.


Becker obtained a 17-page long PowerPoint presentation that was shared among stakeholders, but never publicly revealed. It shows where the UF campus could be located, who will fully fund it and even a rough rendering -- all things Mayor Lenny Curry and school leaders have not shared about a project that Becker discovered could cost up to $200 million.

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“Nothing visionary that’s going change things is easy,” Curry said during a news conference on Feb. 7. when Action News Jax first told you about the possible UF health and financial technology graduate education center -- otherwise known as a Fintech campus.

“We have a large Fintech presence here, a large tech presence, and that stuff touches everything,” Curry added.

Mayor Curry is asking Jacksonville City Council to authorize $20 million as the city’s first installment of a $50 million commitment over a three year period towards financing the school. The school also announced it would attempt to fundraise an additional $50 million. The legislation filed by the mayor does not have any provision for UF to repay the city if the campus isn’t built.

Related Story: Jacksonville, UF to explore possible graduate campus

The PowerPoint presentation Becker procured reveals the goal is to be at the level of prestigious institutions like Stanford, Duke, Harvard and MIT with academic planning including masters in health, business and engineering with the caveat in the fine print. The proposed academic portfolio will evolve over time as the vision for UF@JAX takes shape and the market is further assessed.

“You guys would know where the site is I expect, before summer,” the mayor said during that Feb. 7 news conference -- but Becker found out the potential site is situated around Laura and State Streets, adjacent to Klutho and Springfield Parks, Hogan’s Creek and the Emerald Trail in a newly formed academic district:

  • Approximately 18 acres
  • 14 acres in phase one
  • 3.9 acres in phase two

In addition to the money from the city and UF, the proposal includes a plan to get an additional $100 million in state support.

Last year, state lawmakers supported $100 million for a UF technology campus in West Palm Beach but a source tells Becker the city was pursuing that deal but quote “dropped the ball.”

But according to the State’s 2022-23 budget, the UF board could vote to use the $100 million “in a location outside of Palm Beach Bounty.” But it’s unclear if that would actually happen.

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The mayor is steadfast Jacksonville will not fumble its opportunity, one way or another. “I don’t expect this to be easy, but I expect this to get done,” Curry said on Feb. 7.

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