TAMPA (FOX 13) - The first new building on Tampa's Water Street was topped off Wednesday.
Dignitaries signed the ceremonial beam that was lifted by a crane along with the American flag and the USF flag to the top of the new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.
The building, to be completed in late 2019, rises 13 stories above what will be a downtown area that nearly doubles in size, and if backers are right, will create thousands of jobs for thousands of new residents in Tampa's urban core.
"I think this is bigger than baseball," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "When you build that educational medical complex in the urban core and you think about all the benefits and how this will attract talent and young people, this will have a generational impact. on downtown Tampa."
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's $3 billion Water Street vision would reshape the downtown area into a gleaming commercial and residential core centered around health, including the new medical school.
It will be a health center for residents, visitors, and health-oriented companies that would locate near the brain power of the university.
"All great cities have great research universities," said Genshaft. "USF is Tampa Bay's research university."
USF says 1,800 students, faculty, and researchers will occupy the new medical school and heart institute which is close to the university's largest teaching hospital, Tampa General, and USF's CAMLS Center, which provides continuing education in technology for physicians.
Genshaft said the new medical school is already spiking interest among potential students and faculty.
"We have 6,000 applications for 170 positions," said Genshaft.
The school is named for Tampa philanthropist Frank Morsani, who praised Genshaft and Vinik for locating the new school downtown.
"Everybody here today has witnessed the change in this community," said Morsani, who choked up delivering remarks.