University keeps Southside closed to students, searches for new purposes for units

By Morgan Givens
Staff writer

Many University of West Florida students walk past the 15 Southside Village residency units scattered along the campus every day, yet nobody has walked in or out the housing buildings since 2015.

Two years ago was the last time any UWF students have called Southside home, and due to renovations with a high price tag, future Argonauts will not be moving into those units.

Pictured is one of the Southside residence dorms, which have not been used by students since 2015. (Photo by Morgan Givens)

The Southside units, which were among the first structures built on the UWF campus in the 1960s, have building codes that are much more outdated than that of today’s newer residence buildings on campus.

Daniel Motherway, who works as assistant director of finances and facilities in the Department of Housing and Residence Life, added up the prices of renovations, and the total is something he said would be too expensive.

“When you do major work on a building, a lot of regulations or codes need to be put in place,” Motherway said, “and after studying what it would take to bring these buildings up to code, it was expensive. We needed a fire suppression system, new stairways and elevators and a new air conditioner system. For all that it would be $1 million per building.”

Motherway expressed that the Housing and Residence Life department has made several attempts at planning renovations for Southside that could save money, including possibly building walkways that connect all the buildings making it a one unit pod. Ultimately, costs are still too high.

With those renovations, that totals to $15 million for a housing village that can house only 480 students at the maximum capacity, which is smaller compared to the newer residence halls — Heritage and Presidents — and also considering the new apartment complexes like The Next and The Edge. The rooms at Southside were either one- or two-bedroom and were highly requested when they were open, but some students prefer the perks of the newer facilities.

“It would be cool to live in one of the Southside houses,” freshman Jai Ellis said, “but I really like the space that I have at Heritage now, as well as many of the people I know who live there. I would like to see the university find a way to use some of the buildings before they become an eyesore.”

There is not a clear plan on what to do with the Southside buildings, but and there is also the option for UWF to use the land they are sitting on for other purposes. (Photo by Morgan Givens)

In the last year of housing students, the cost per semester was $2,550 to $3,140, depending on if students lived alone or with a roommate. This included all the water, electricity, and cable bills.

Although students find the thought of living in Southside ideal, Motherway made it clear that the university is taking a path where the units will no longer be used for housing. There is not a clear plan on what to do with the buildings, but and there is also the option for UWF to use the land they are sitting on for other purposes.

“At this point [we have] to see if the buildings are of historical significance, and if they are, we will make the decision to see if we can keep a few of them and possibly renovating them,”Motherway said, “but the depending on the long-term plans for the university, we might take down a few of them.”

2 Responses to University keeps Southside closed to students, searches for new purposes for units

  1. Michael Stewart says:

    They could be used for student activities such as club meetings, group project space, think tanks, sorority/fraternity events

  2. Alicia says:

    I lived in those buildings for 2/4 years at UWF and I loved living there. I do see a way to use these buildings for storage for Greek life or other orgs. Also, Greek orgs usually have an advisor or consultant come to stay a few days to a week, so they could be used for traveling consultants like AirBnB that is much cheaper than a hotel

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