Land deal lands medical facility
June 11, 2010
The University of South Florida reached a deal with the city Thursday to buy property downtown for a high-tech medical training center.
USF will pay about $3.5 million for what is known as the Hart lot, near 102 S. Franklin St., just south of the Fort Brooke Parking Garage. The school plans to start construction by January.
"This is a project of both love and passion and work," USF medical school dean Stephen Klasko told Tampa City Council members Thursday.
The center will make Tampa an international hub for high-tech and robotic surgical training, he said.
"You are a valuable, valuable partner to this community," said council chairman Tom Scott.
Councilwoman Mary Mulhern suggested that USF could also move its pharmacy school downtown, now that Gov. Charlie Crist has vetoed the money to move it to USF Polytechnic in Lakeland. But Klasko didn't address that.
USF has been working for four years to develop the $20 million, 60,000-square-foot Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, known as CAMLS.
University officials had planned to build it in Tampa Heights, but the property deal fell apart. They also considered Orlando's Medical City.
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio must approve the sale. She has long supported locating the CAMLS project in Tampa.
CAMLS will include an advanced surgical laboratory, where surgeons can learn new techniques and train on new equipment, and a virtual hospital where doctors can practice laparoscopic and other procedures on human simulators. It will also have a 150-seat auditorium with satellite videoconferencing, high-speed Internet access and Wi-Fi capabilities.
Surgeons from around the world will come to CAMLS for training, Klasko said.
The project will create as many as 40 jobs, said Tampa economic development administrator Mark Huey.
"It's also going to create opportunity potentially for businesses to move here who want to be associated with a cutting edge training center," he said. The Tampa Convention Center, two blocks from the CAMLS site, could also use it to attract more health care-related events.
By the time of the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa, CAMLS will be one of Tampa's biggest highlights, Klasko said.
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