Sunday, October 19, 2014

USF Medical School in Downtown Tampa?

The downtown Tampa powers are piling it on heavy to bring the USF Medical School to downtown Tampa.  Recently, Lightning owner and downtown impresario Jeff Vinik, who's been buying up land around downtown, especially around the home of the Lightning, Amalie Arena, offered land in downtown Tampa to USF Medical school.
Vinik, the Tampa Bay Lightning owner who also controls dozens of acres of land in downtown Tampa, has offered to donate nearly an acre of land to the university — if the new Morsani College of Medicine and the USF Health Heart Institute are built there, USF spokesman Adam Freeman said Wednesday.

The land is at Channelside Drive and Meridian Avenue, Freeman said.
The Tampa Tribune endorsed the concept today.
Discussions are underway to move USF’s medical school and perhaps other health-care programs to downtown Tampa.

Such a move would transform the city’s urban core, galvanizing Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s effort to make downtown bustle day and night.
There really is no plan.  It's just a concept, and a donation of "nearly an acre of land" from Vinik.

USF Health moving downtown?
The mayor of (apparently only downtown) Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, is clearly behind the concept, as it will bring untold prosperity to downtown.

Again there is no plan, no financial impacts, no master development plan for the surrounding downtown areas.  Just a concept of if we build it, they will come.
But locating a medical-school complex downtown would likely cause an explosion of urban development, attracting more residential towers, health-care companies and other enterprises, restaurants, retail shops and such.

An urban school would complement nearby Tampa General Hospital, USF’s own downtown Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation facility, and would become the anchor for Lighting owner Jeff Vinik’s plans to redevelop the Channelside area.
Is moving the medical school about improving medical training?  Or is it more about economic development downtown and further lining the pockets of Jeff Vinick and other downtown developers?

Removing medical school facilities and jobs from the northern USF campus can only subtract from the north Tampa - USF area economy. Notably, it will be much cheaper to develop the new/improved medical school on or near the USF, and much less disruptive to the faculty, staff, and students.

Building the medical school downtown on an acre or two will be very expensive. The only option will be to build a tower -- building up is much more expensive.  Developing downtown will likely take more time than developing on the USF campus.  Not to mention other downtown roads and infrastructure that will have to be altered or built to support the project (or any large scale future project for that matter, which we do not uniformly reject).

Also, don't forget the medical school properties themselves will not pay taxes. Any move downtown will take valuable tax generating properties off future tax rolls.

Besides, it's not as if the USF area is currently barren of leading medical treatment and research facilities -- Florida Hospital Tampa, H. Lee Moffitt, Byrd Alzheimer Institute, the James A. Haley Veterans Administration are all on the campus or within walking distance of the USF campus.

Additionally, the Tampa Innovation Alliance is supportive of the further investment in and around the north Tampa and USF.
The effort to rejuvenate a downtrodden area that happens to house some of Tampa’s most vital institutions will get a new perspective with outgoing Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Mark Sharpe joining the campaign.

Sharpe will serve as a consultant to the Tampa Innovation Alliance, a group formed by powerhouses in the fields of entertainment, education and medicine – Busch Gardens, the University of South Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center and Florida Hospital Tampa.
In other words, its an economic zero sum game, possibly worse.  Moving the USF medical school downtown will remove more property off the tax rolls, which will not happen if USF expands the school on campus.  Developing downtown will also be much more expensive.  Someone will have to pay for it.

It may get interesting watching the downtown proponents battle it out with the north Tampa Innovation Alliance as this deal further progresses.

Will Vinik pay for the reconfiguration of roads and infrastructure, and the excess costs of building a medical school tower, or will the taxpayers?

What else is missing in any of the discussions about relocating the medical school to downtown?

Is it the best option for improving the medical training for the future medical students?

It's not yet a plan, much less a "done deal".

Perhaps they should consider the consequences before developing this any further rather than more mindless cheerleading for downtown Tampa.

Downtown Tampa is not the only area in Hillsborough where the economic development and jobs are important.

No comments:

Post a Comment