Marisol Medina & Brandon Wise/ FIUSM Staff
Starting next summer, students who want to live at Bay Vista will need a back up plan.
The University is in the final stages of negotiating a land lease to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, which will allow the company to house their on-board performers in the Bay Vista Housing on the Biscayne Bay Campus.
In September 2012, FIU published an invitation to negotiate with the company to build and operate a production, rehearsal and performance facility at BBC. Royal Caribbean responded to the public invitation to negotiate, according to the Board of Trustees agenda meeting from June 12, 2013.
Royal Caribbean’s entertainers and performers are currently housed around the Hollywood area and their training centers are dispersed, according to Mohammad Qureshi, associate dean of the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Seeking to consolidate the performers’ housing and training to one area, Royal Caribbean has its eyes on BBC.
As far as the students that currently live in Bay Vista Housing, FIU believes that most students would want to move to Modesto A. Maidique Campus’ new housing facilities.
“MMC is finishing up new housing facilities this fall and will have more supply than demand, which is different to previous years when there has always been more demand,” said Qureshi.
Larry Lunsford, vice president of student affairs, said that the demand for housing at BBC has been on the decline for some time now.
“There is an important business aspect to University Housing, and it is important that the demand is there to keep it operational,”Lunsford said. “The cost of renovations needed to improve Bay Vista Housing most likely would result in the facility being cost prohibitive for our student residents.”
Bay Vista can hold 272 students and six resident assistants, according to the housing website.
“New housing is on the master plan for BBC,” Lunsford said. “As decisions are finalized regarding the future of BBC housing, we will communicate these plans to students.”
Royal Caribbean will renovate BBC’s current housing facilities and begin building a 45,000 sq. foot training facility, all at no cost to FIU once the deal is completed.
“FIU is hoping that with the money from the land lease, we can then use those funds to start a new housing project for the students in the BBC campus,” said Qureshi.
For those students who do not wish to move to MMC, the University is negotiating with outside companies who provide temporary housing for students.
Deiondra Skinner, a sophomore public relations student, is a resident assistant at Bay Vista Housing who recently moved to BBC from MMC housing to be closer to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“I don’t think it would fair to the students who have their courses here. If they’re at MMC, that would be an additional $5 a day for them to commute using the shuttle,” said Skinner.
Skinner said she would be more receptive of the relocation if alternative options were provided.
Although housing students on campus may be moved, the School of Architecture and the Arts will be allowed access to the new facilities, according to Kenneth Jessell, chief financial officer of FIU.
“FIU wants to create an endowment for the two schools which will generate scholarship money given to students,” said Qureshi.
Royal Caribbean will also provide FIU’s students with internship opportunities, as well as job opportunities. They will work with FIU to improve its cruise line course and will engage the students in a Study at Sea program.
Royal Caribbean will additionally provide FIU access to data which will aid FIU’s research efforts.
“One of the stipulations was that our performing arts students would have access to the new training facility, as well as allowing Royal Caribbean’s performers to interact with the students through lectures,” said Qureshi.
Jessell said the details of the negotiation are still being worked on by the Board of Trustees and the State of Florida Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, who own the University’s land.
“We anticipate that this will be in place sometime in August 2014,” said Jessell.