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Daytona Law School Idea Hits Snag

Daytona city officials said that the former police department on Nova Road is not going to be used as a law school, according to a report in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

The officials from the city said that they have been erroneously telling business partners from Jacksonville who wanted to start a law school in the building that it had 55,000 square feet of space available for use. An appraisal on the building actually found that there is just 38,000 square feet of usable space, which leaves the partners short of what they needed.

“We’re somewhere between shell-shocked and disappointed,” said Jacksonville attorney Eric Smith, a partner on the project. “We had started to look for contractors.”

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Jim Catlett, of Infinity Global Solutions, said, “Basically we mis-invested a lot of money and time trying to put 10 pounds of sugar in a five-pound bag.”

Both men said that they will start to look for a different building in Daytona Beach that will have more space available. Catlett noted that an accredited law school needs at least 55,000 square feet to operate but anywhere from 75,000-80,000 square feet is optimal for offices, classrooms and a law library.

Officials from the city said they were referencing old information about the building and did not realize the difference in size until the appraisal occurred. Catlett said that the partners do not have the option of building a new structure for the law school. This means that they will be searching for buildings in Daytona Beach with anywhere from 60,000-80,000 square feet.

“Daytona Beach has a thriving, growing, ambitious academic community” Smith said. Smith has worked as a law professor in the past. “We’re temporarily deterred. We’ll make it work.” Smith will serve as the president and chief operating officer for the law school.

The third partner in the law school venture is Jacksonville attorney Steven Nemerson. The law school would be independent and be able to hold 600 students and roughly 30 full-time faculty.

The appraisal took place three weeks ago, with Catlett saying, “Needless to say we’re disappointed, but we understand. I don’t think anyone was trying to sabotage us. … I appreciate the city’s efforts. Everyone was very nice.”

Ken McGee, a member of the Midtown board, said, “It gives us an opportunity to look at an expanded project up to International Speedway Boulevard. That strip of ISB is important to the gateway aspect of getting into downtown.”

The city has yet to say what it will do with the former police department building.

“The ultimate goal,” Deputy City Manager Paul McKitrick said, “is to have the property become a job creating commercial use that contributes to the city and Midtown Redevelopment Area tax base.”

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