Land Feud Blocking Plans for New FIU Engineering School

Florida International University has unveiled plans to build a brand new, state-of-art engineering school at its main campus in southwest Miami-Dade.

It's been two years since voters strongly approved the idea of the university expanding next door into the Youth Fair’s section of Tamiami Park.

"The public land the fair's operating on, what's the best use for that public land? The voters have made clear what they want," said Mark Rosenberg, FIU President.

Rosenberg announced Tuesday that as soon as it's able, FIU plans to build a striking new science building on part of the 64 acres currently occupied by the fair, saying expansion is an urgent priority for the university to remain a beacon of hope.

"What's the cost to our community of not having those educational opportunities be right here? What's the cost to our community of the brain drain that will inevitably follow as we close our doors because we have no room to grow?" Rosenberg stated.

The Youth Fair has a pretty simple response to FIU's plan to build a brand-new engineering building on the property. They're saying, "It's not your land, it's leased to us, keep your hands off of it until we settle this issue."

"Candidly, it's a little bit disturbing that they are talking about building a multi-million dollar facility on property they don't own, they don't rent and they don't lease," said Bob Hohenstein, Youth Fair CEO.

Hohenstein points out voters approved FIU's expansion only if the fair could be relocated to a suitable site without spending county money. It won't be easy to dislodge the fair from its 85-year lease.

"There are real, hard costs associated with this. This is an expensive proposition. It is not gonna come cheap," he said.

"They've got a great deal. If you had that deal, you would dig in and hang on, too," Rosenberg said.

The fair says it'll cost at least $300 million to move, FIU says it's more like $50 million; they're neighbors, yet miles apart. Still, there's optimism on FIU's side of the fence.

"FIU turns the impossible into the inevitable. We're very confident we'll find a way to get this done," Rosenberg said.

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