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ORLANDO – University of Central Florida has officially added a Downtown Orlando campus to its five-year plan.

Many students think of downtown as a place to visit, but soon students may find themselves going downtown for school.

The university received $2 million from state legislators as planning money in order to fully examine a downtown campus this year and see if it would be beneficial to establish a larger UCF presence downtown.

"The downtown campus was added to the capital improvement plan. But that action doesn't change our status of evaluating the feasibility of moving more programs downtown," UCF spokesman Chad Binette said.

The UCF Board of Trustees voted July 31 on a five-year capital improvement plan, which will include a $75 million campus and a $15 million parking garage.

"State Sen. Andy Gardiner has been working on additional components of what a bigger University of Central Florida campus would bring to Downtown Orlando. We've been looking at what Arizona State University did in Downtown Phoenix," Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer said.

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The campus is planned to be a joint-use facility with Valencia College, which could share in the cost.

According to the Board's capital improvement plan, the cost for the proposed student housing — which will consist of 800 beds — would be $50 million.

The parking garage would include 1,300 spaces.

"UCF's capital improvement plan includes projects that might be part of our long-term vision. Some end up moving to the construction phase, while others may not," Binette said.

The Creative Village project site, home to the old Amway Arena, is likely to be a possible location for the future downtown campus.

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"It certainly would be one area we would consider," Binette said. "It's got the potential to be a great win for UCF and a win for downtown and all the businesses there. We just want the experts to come in and take a look and see if that's the case."

Dyer added that the city has already received a $2 million appropriation to examine what a UCF campus at Creative Village might do, which could have "huge ramifications."

UCF has already established a presence downtown with two locations.

Across from the old Amway Arena and the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre stands the Center for Emerging Media, which caters to the electronic arts crowd. Located on Pine Street is the Executive Development Center, which serves UCF MBA students.

"We have an educated workforce with Rollins College, Valencia College and Full Sail University at our doorstep, and the University of Central Florida is not far away," Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley said. "We have a high quality of life. Those things work together very well for economic development. We create a safe place with a fair tax rate and a nice place for people to live."

Other projects expected to come underway, according to the improvement plan, include a baseball stadium expansion and renovation, graduate housing, expo center housing, a multipurpose medical research and incubator facility and a dental school.

The first phase of the expansion of the Bright House Networks Stadium is also in the plans, with a renovation and expansion of the football facilities, such as a larger locker room, weight room and equipment room.

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