Officials Considering Move Um Law School Downtown
By Risa Polansky
University of Miami School of Law administrators are considering moving the school from Coral Gables to downtown Miami — which could be instrumental in the growth and improvement of the area, says Dana Nottingham, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority.
"Downtown educational institutions are critical to the evolution of downtown as a premier residential address, recognized international business center and compelling urban tourism destination," he said. "Colleges are critical to building a livable community as well as retaining, expanding and diversifying our international business infrastructure.
"Colleges downtown create vitality and promote lifelong learning, which is key to building a community," he said.
Downtown developers recently approached UM law-school officials to suggest the move, said UM School of Law Dean Dennis Lynch. "In respect to the redevelopment of downtown, that might be a very positive thing," he said.
They are entertaining the possibility, he said, although he did not name any potential downtown sites or a timetable for a move. "There are a lot of different options," and officials are "just trying to find out what’s really feasible, what locations might be possible," he said. "We’re just looking for ways to improve our existing facility."
The school, with enrollment of 1,200, has outgrown its current home at 1311 Miller Dr., Mr. Lynch said. "We now occupy close to 200,000 square feet and have plans on the current campus to add 30-some thousand," he said. "If we were to build a new facility, it would be about 250,000 square feet."
While the school is $4 million into a $24 million fundraising campaign to fund a proposed on-campus expansion included in the university’s 25-year expansion plan approved by Coral Gables city commissioners early this month, efforts have "slowed down" in that drive as the school considers other options such as building downtown, Mr. Lynch said.
Administrators "really haven’t reached the point where we’ve sat down and discussed the funding plans" for building a new school downtown, but they are aware of the doors it would open.
The location would lend itself to a "relationship with the legal community," Mr. Lynch said.
Advantages to remaining on campus, such as proximity to schools in which students can earn joint degrees, may keep the law school in the Gables, he said.
Several colleges and universities are based downtown — including Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave.; Florida International University’s College of Business Administration in the Macy’s building, 22 E. Flagler St.; and Miami International University of Art and Design in the Omni building, 1501Biscayne Blvd.