UT will turn Outpost into a new research facility

by Brittany Reed

The University of Tampa has announced that they will soon be building a satellite science research facility where the old Outpost Tap House and Tavern building was on W. Kennedy Blvd. The build is expected to be complete by Summer 2020.

This science research lab will be 4,000 square feet and feature three primary research spaces: equipment rooms, a chemical storage area, and a common area for students and professors to meet or study. The three labs include, a synthetic chemistry lab, an analytical chemistry lab, and a molecular techniques lab. The site will also include parking.

These laboratories will cater toward biology and chemistry faculty that work in the College of Natural and Health Sciences and will allow for growth in synthetic and analytical chemistry, as well as in biology fields using molecular techniques. The facility will provide laboratory space for roughly 12 biology and chemistry faculty along with their students and assistants.

“Our science programs have greatly grown in enrollment over the past few years,” said Linda Devine, vice president of Operations and Planning at UT. “We needed to look at what options we had for expansion of spaces that would best serve faculty and students. The old Outpost location made sense.” 

The Outpost was a bar and restaurant located directly off campus, across the street from the Daly Innovation and Collaboration Building. They featured an extensive beer list and served basic bar food like burgers, fries, and sandwiches. UT has owned the Outpost property since April 2017. The Outpost closed after they did not renew their lease in May of 2018. 

The location choice of the building has caused some nostalgia for upperclassmen at UT. “[Outpost] had the best buffalo chicken fries ever,” said Francesca Marotta, senior communication major, “In-between classes everyone would just go and hang there, even if it wasn’t to drink–it was just to get food right off campus because you could walk there.” 

With many students not having cars, restaurants and stores within walking distance are often very popular. However, there are limited options within a one-mile radius. 

“It was great for students because you could go have some fun and you could walk right back to campus,” said Marotta. “You didn’t need to walk anywhere far, and it was safe because it was literally right on campus.”

Some students find UT’s plan to turn the building into a science research facility poorly thought out. “It should have been a parking lot,” said Marotta. “Commuter students can’t even get a spot because they give out way too many passes to people and then people who have cars on campus can’t even find a place to park.” 

A recently published Minaret article explains how UT oversold parking passes by nearly 1,000 this 2019-2020 school year. This has caused heavy traffic problems on North Boulevard and has even affected students academically by causing them to be late to class. 

“We already have great labs in the science wing and in Cass,” said Maggie Schmook, sophomore double major in public health and sociology. “We need a parking garage and have for a while. The school oversold 1,000 parking spots, like, seriously UT?” 

According to Devine, instead of expanding more, UT is focusing on the space it owns now. “The University has gradually expanded westward, but at the present we are largely spending our time trying to use existing space in its highest and best form,” said Devine. “We’re looking at many factors, including classroom and office space, service centers, and parking and circulation.”

UT is currently in the process of constructing The Ferman Center for the Arts building, located off North Boulevard. This building will include: a recital hall, black box theater, classrooms, studios, music practice rooms, faculty offices, a courtyard, and multiple study spaces. It will cater towards students studying fine and performing arts.

Perhaps in the future, UT will construct a new parking area, but for now, they are staying focused on making campus and buildings the best that they can be.

Brittany Reed can be reached at brittany.reed@spartans.ut.edu

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