UWF Making a Home for Innovation
- November 2, 2013
- / Shannon Nickinson
- / education
Pam Northrup is going where they will do “the weird stuff." That is how she has been describing what will take place at the University of West Florida’s Innovation Institute, which is set to open later this year in Belmont-DeVilliers. The historic Pensacola neighborhood soon will be a space where the university will build partnerships in the community and inspire collaborative thinking to solve problems. It also will be a hub for the university’s distance learning, online education and other programs. “It’s not just another business incubator. It is more of an education incubator,” she says. Northrup, associate provost for academic innovation, is leading the effort. She is one of three longtime university staffers who will move to the new offices in the DeVilliers Square building later this year. Altogether the Institute will bring nine full-time university employees into DeVilliers Square, the building across the street from Five Sisters Blues Cafe. UWF will lease the majority of the third floor for a space that will feature modern design elements and a smartboard-rich, collaborative environment for folks to brainstorm ideas. “We will be creating jobs,” Northrup says. The building is being renovated now and is owned in partnership by architect Eddie Todd and businessman Quint Studer’s Studer Properties. The Studers became investors in the project this year and will put an additional $1.25 million into the building. Studer says the facility will generate potential property tax revenue of $30,000 a year and employ at least 20 people when completed. The second floor is being leased as individual office space for private businesses, and is 30 percent leased now. The first floor will be a mix of office and retail space, which also is being leased. The university’s presence in the building is a big addition to efforts to revitalize one of Pensacola’s oldest and most culturally rich neighborhoods. That spirit was one of the things, Northrup says, was attractive about locating the Institute in Todd’s building. “We want to be there and we believe in what’s going on in that community,” she says.