New UF President’s House planned; current house to be renovated as event venue
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new home for future University of Florida presidents will be built near UF’s law school, with the six-decade-old original president’s house renovated to enhance its current role as an event venue for the university community.
The estimated $5 million project will be funded entirely through private support – including a $3.5 million lead gift from UF alumni John and Mary Lou Dasburg, of Key Biscayne. The new house will be named The Dasburg President’s House in recognition of the gift.
“Mary Lou and I are pleased to support the new home for UF’s presidents. Most major universities provide on-campus homes for their presidents. In many respects it is the living room of a great university and we should have a home of quality that the president and university can be proud of,” said John Dasburg, chairman and CEO of ASTAR USA LLC.
UF’s new president’s house will be built on Village Drive, just north of the former site of the Baby Gator Child Development and Research Center.
While its final design is still on the drawing board, the house’s two stories will span 5,000-6,000 square feet. The house will incorporate smart technology and energy efficiency, and it will be certified under the LEED for Homes and Energy Star programs.
Much like the old house, it may be used to host small gatherings of up to 20 people, including intimate dinners with dignitaries, receptions with faculty, gatherings for alumni and students, fundraising events and other activities that benefit the university.
The existing UF President’s House was built in 1953 just west of West University Avenue and Southwest Second Avenue, then a relatively quiet and secluded location. With the university’s growth, year-round events at the O’Connell Center and increasing traffic on University Avenue, the location is far busier today. The house serves entirely as an event venue, with nearly 80 events last year.
“The house is outdated, lacking the technology and energy efficient systems now standard in new construction on campus,” said Curtis Reynolds, UF’s vice president for business affairs. “Modernizing this event venue makes good sense for the campus community.”
David Brown, chairman of the UF Board of Trustees, said the Dasburg President’s House will meet a key university need.
“As Florida’s flagship university, it is important that we have a president’s home that can engage alumni and friends in the mission and vision of the university,” Brown said. “It’s so much more than a house. It represents the spirit and vitality of the university family and will create a source of pride for generations of Gators.”
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