By: Ismael Rodriguez

Florida International University has entertained the idea of attracting more researchers, conventions and visitors to its premises by proposing to build a $59 million hotel and conference center.

The project is scheduled to break ground in March on the northwest corner of FIU’s main campus on Southwest Eighth Street, just off Florida’s Turnpike in Miami-Dade County.

Its completion is expected for June 2019, with average room rates starting at $153 a night, according to the plans provided by the university.

Despite the abundance of hotels in Miami, few of those are situated near the FIU campus, officials told the press. Most visitors staying in the western part of Miami-Dade stay in Coral Gables and spend nearly an hour driving to campus, Ken Jessell, senior vice president for finance and administration at FIU, told the press.

“It’s hard to get to any hotel, much less a quality hotel,” Jessell added in an interview with the press. “This is something that is greatly needed, not only for our students and visitors and families, but our academic programs, research programs, professional conferences and the like.”

The hotel will include a seven-story, 150-bed high-end hotel with a pool, fitness center, restaurant and conference center. It will also have an $8 million, 14,000-square-foot alumni center in a separate building on the property, housing student and alumni mentoring services, a career center, library and lounge.

The project will be the first university-affiliated hotel in South Florida, joining other programs in the state like the University of Florida in Gainesville, which has a hotel and conference center, and the University of Central Florida in Orlando that plans to break ground this fall.

FIU spokesman Joshua Glanzer told the press that the project wouldn’t be a financial liability either. It would be built through a public-private collaboration with Concord Benchmark LLC, with Benchmark Management Company handling the day-today operations.

FIU is currently one of the largest universities in the U.S. with about 55,000 students.