‘Don’t destroy our homes!’

For those concerned with protecting low-income students and the environment, the CMP stinks

by the Save Maguire/UVS Team

“Don’t destroy our homes!” is the cry of scores of graduate students as they fight to save their historic and idyllic affordable housing complex from being torn down along SW 34th Street on the west side of the University of Florida’s campus.

For anyone concerned with protecting low-income students or the environment, the proposed 2020–2030 UF Campus Master Plan (CMP) has more than its share of bad ideas. 

Besides the unwise plan to build on one of the last remaining teaching conservation areas on campus (McCarty Woods), the CMP goes on to propose demolishing Maguire Village and University Village South (UVS) by 2023 (covering 27 acres!), only to replace it with an unnecessary recreation field. Maguire/UVS Villages are home to 348 solid brick apartments built less than 50 years ago, with ample amenities and shaded courtyards.  (See Saving McCarty Woods Conservation Area on p. 19.)

This wasteful idea is part of the Campus Master Plan. Many international students and their families live there; it has a friendly and kind community feeling. These students and their families will be put out into an already limited low-income Gainesville housing market if the CMP goes through unchanged. This is ill-thought and unkind. 

Furthermore, UF is planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new undergraduate housing in the next 20 years, while not only spending $0 on new graduate housing, but also destroying nearly 40 percent of the housing they have. 

No graduate students were consulted prior to this plan being proposed to see how it will affect them. 

Confirmed plans for demolition were only revealed in late 2020, but UF has been letting the property deteriorate, and only using half the units, despite high demand. This is UF giving away income from 175 apartments that could be rented out. 

Like any landlord, UF could take the revenue generated and put it toward needed minor repairs, or simply take 1 percent of the approximately $400 million slated for new undergraduate housing to help finish renovations (although in general, these Villages are superb already, as many were already invested with renovation just a few years ago).

Regardless of the lack of transparency, there is still time and hope. In December’s UF Board of Trustees meeting, after hearing several graduate student leaders speak, the Board decided the CMP’s effect on graduate students might deserve further review. 

Additionally, local city/county commissioners can still weigh in before the final interlocal Campus Development Agreement is signed in March. Feel free to contact your commissioner to ask them not to sign on unless UF reverses its plan to demolition these beautiful homes, and instead reinvests in its gem of safe, affordable on-campus housing for graduate students.

Please help save Maguire Village and UVS. Contact organizing@ufgau.org to learn more.

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