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UNF breaks ground on new Honors Residence Hall

President Limayem and other leaders breaking groundThe University of North Florida broke ground Friday on a new Honors Residence Hall that will provide students with a new option for where to live, study, eat and play on campus beginning fall 2025. 

UNF President Moez Limayem and Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, UNF Hicks Honors College dean, were joined by City Councilmen Will Lahnen and Raul Arias, as well as other campus and community leaders at the groundbreaking on the site where the new four-story, 164,579-square-foot residence hall will go up — along the east side of the campus on Osprey Ridge Road adjacent to Osprey Fountains. This is the University’s first housing expansion since 2009, and it will bring the number of beds available to students to approximately 4,300 when the new facility opens.  

UNF’s new strategic plan, approved last month by the Florida Board of Governors, includes plans to increase enrollment to 25,000 students over five years. While that growth would come from students in various stages of their education, the University wants to provide additional housing opportunities for the growing number of students wanting to live on campus.   

President Limayem speaking at the groundbreaking ceremonyThe new residence hall is a living-learning community designed for honor students. However, all students will have the opportunity to apply for housing in the new building beginning in spring 2025.  

“We are excited to begin construction on this important new community for our students,” said UNF President Moez Limayem. “This new residence hall aligns with UNF’s strategic growth and our commitment to create environments that support student success.”    

Living-learning communities are designed to support students’ development and learning through engagement with other students with similar academic goals or shared interests. UNF has more than a dozen living-learning communities, and students generally do better in their coursework and are given the opportunity to broaden their learning experiences with peers who have similar interests.  

The energy efficient facility will include space for about 520 beds, standard amenities such as designated study areas, lounge areas for socializing and a central kitchenette on each floor. An added feature not found in other on-campus housing is a pathway opening between floors for more communications with residents.  

The main floor features a larger kitchen, including a future cooking demonstration feature, offices, larger gathering and study spaces, mail, laundry, two Resident Advisor apartments and space for an outside food vendor.  

Outdoor amenities include basketball and sand volleyball courts, green space and a boardwalk connector to the center of campus.  

John Hale, UNF’s associate vice president and chief facilities officer, said the new student housing project is the result of a demand study conducted by consultants which started prior to COVID-9, and was updated again in spring 2023.  

“The demand study looked at student needs, enrollment, growth, housing inventory and the North Florida market,” Hale said. “It was determined then that more student housing was needed to keep up with the University’s growth pattern. This project helps to fulfill that need.” 

Ajax Building Company, headquartered in Midway, Florida, is the contractor for the project.  

Hale said the second phase of the project, which will include an academic center to be built next to the residence hall, is in the planning stage.  

Student leaders posing near the UNF final rendering at the groundbreaking eventLiving-learning communities have proven to be exceptional environments for students, said Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, dean of the Hicks Honors College.  

The new residence hall will accommodate students at various stages of their time at UNF, which would help when upper classmen honors students, mentor first-year students, Chamberlain said. 

“The intention is to promote an environment where students have common interests to build a strong academic and social support system in a convenient location,” Chamberlain said.   

Other major UNF development projects in the works include renovation of the Coggin College of Business, which will be merged with adjacent Building 10, and the renovation of Brooks College of Health. Both projects are expected to be completed in 2025.