Construction continues on UCF downtown campus

School officials say work will be completed before first day of classes

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - With less than two weeks to go before the first day of classes, construction crews are busy working on a $101 million project that will give the University of Central Florida and Valencia College a large presence in downtown Orlando. 

Inside UnionWest, a 15-story housing tower, resident assistants went through training that included CPR and how to communicate with first responders. 

"Fingers crossed, we're (moving) in this week," UCF junior Avery Royston said. "You know, right now it's a building, a beautiful building, but we're looking forward to making it a home." 

Students are set to move into the new housing Aug. 21, with the first day of classes set for Aug. 26. 

"We are in the final stages of construction and will open on time," Heather Smith, director of media relations, told News 6. "Our new downtown location will enhance academic programs by leveraging proximity to industry, including placing students within walking distance of jobs and internships in downtown Orlando." 

Preparations are also underway for UCF police officers, who will handle matters at the new campus. 

"Our officers have been working patrol downtown for a month now to get used to the community and the logistics of the campus," Cmdr. Scott Freeman said. "Prepare for as much as we can,  and adapt and overcome for the things we couldn't prepare for and didn't see coming." 

When it opens, the campus will house 20 academic programs between the two colleges. 

"This is already a part of our regular patrol," Orlando police public information officer Cory Burkarth added. "In addition to what we're currently doing, there's also going to UCF police down here as well, so they're going to see double the police presence." 

Final inspections of the buildings are underway, as resident assistants prepare for the inevitable growing pains that come with a new building. 

"We're really prepared to be transparent with everybody, and say, 'Hey we're as new at this as you are,'" Royston added. 
 

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