Monday, December 3, 2012

Proposal for new Daytona Beach School of Law hits a snag

Despite the continuing and precipitous decline in law school applications as well as the dismal market for new law grads (the two are, of course, related), there are some who still think we need more law schools (here). Case in point is a group of private investors hoping to start a new, standalone law school in Daytona Beach, Florida.  But those plans just hit an unexpected snag when the investors discovered that an abandoned police building they planned to use to house the new school is about 45% smaller than they were led to believe.  As such it doesn't provide the square footage they need.  As one of the investors told the Daytona Beach News-Journal: "We're somewhere between shell-shocked and disappointed." 

Size error nixes Daytona law school deal

The old police department on Nova Road that's been sitting vacant for nearly four years will not be getting a new lease on life as a law school.

City officials say since March they have mistakenly been telling the three business partners from Jacksonville who wanted to open a law school in the 50-year-old complex that the buildings had about 55,000 square feet of usable space. A recent appraisal revealed the tan brick buildings offer just under 38,000 square feet, not enough for the kind of law school the partners want.

"We're somewhere between shell-shocked and disappointed," said Jacksonville attorney Eric Smith, a partner on the project and a former state legislator. "We had started to look for contractors."

"Basically we mis-invested a lot of money and time trying to put 10 pounds of sugar in a five-pound bag," said Jim Catlett, executive vice president of Infinity Global Solutions, a Jacksonville development company.

Catlett and Smith say they'll look for another building in Daytona Beach now, but it will have to be bigger. Catlett said an accredited law school would need at least 55,000 square feet, but a better size would be more like 75,000-80,000 square feet to comfortably fit a law library, classrooms and offices.

City leaders say they had relied on old information about the buildings and didn't realize until the appraisal was done that they had unwittingly been passing along bum figures that were off by 45 percent. The floor area was never a priority issue during several meetings, so the mistake lingered, said Deputy City Manager Paul McKitrick

Continue reading here.

Hat tip to Lisa Smith-Butler.


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