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Business dispute puts halt to Florida university construction

Miami Dade residents may be aware of the plans to construct the new Florida Polytechnic University, the 12th university to come to Florida. The land where the university will be built, though, has become part of a business dispute between the company that originally donated the land and the state. Now, the construction of the campus faces a halt until the dispute can be resolved.

The dispute arose when the original owner of the land, Williams Acquisition Holding Co., decided it wanted to limit the state’s use of the land. Originally, the land was donated to the University of South Florida to assist in building a satellite campus of the university. When it was decided the land would instead be transferred to the building of the Florida Polytechnic University, Williams announced it wanted to place conditions limiting the use of the donated land.

The bill to transfer the land was pushed through the Florida Legislature this session, yet Williams must approve the transfer before it can be official. Before Williams will approve such a transfer, the company wants to ensure that the state won’t be able to use it for non-university purposes. These limitations would come in the form of a reverter clause that would cause ownership of the land to revert back to Williams if the state were to use it for purposes unrelated to the university.

The Board of Governors overseeing the construction of the new university claims such a clause is unacceptable. A member of the board who heads the committee for the creation of the new university said he would ask the board to halt construction if Williams and university officials can’t come to an agreement without the reverter clause.

Because Williams donated the land and there is no mention of a contract stipulating use of the land, this business dispute may be quickly resolved in favor of Florida Polytechnic University. It remains to be seen, however, what the final outcome of this dispute will be.

Source: TBO.com, “Land dispute adds obstacle to Florida Poly construction,” Lindsay Peterson, June 13, 2012

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