USF planning to transform The Claw into 'vibrant mixed-use district'

When describing the transformation of the old golf course and surrounding area, leaders at the University of South Florida cited recent development projects in Tampa as examples.

"Our rise aligns perfectly with Tampa’s success and several recent redevelopment projects like Water Street and Midtown, which created vibrant destinations in previously underutilized areas," USF vice president for facilities and public safety operations Carole Post said at the June 4 board of trustees meeting. "We think USF has a similar opportunity with this site."

Post walked board members through redevelopment plans for The Claw, USF’s golf course that closed to the public in September 2023.

READ: USF hires Indiana State's Mitch Hannahs as new baseball coach

"We’ve heard from students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors that USF is missing a place within walking distance of campus to live, work, and play," Post said.

That’s the overall theme – not just for the roughly 130-acres that used to be The Claw – but also for the surrounding area. 

"You shouldn't think about the redevelopment of the golf course in a vacuum," USF senior vice president for university-community partnerships Dr. Eric Eisenberg said. "It's part of a broader attempt to sort of build on the university's AAU status and grow the university in sort of stature and activities."

A map shared with the board of trustees shows several planned projects, including more housing, the new USF football stadium, as well as recreation fields and fitness trails that are under construction.

"Like they say in the old movie, if you build it, they will come," Eisenberg, one of the leaders overseeing all this redevelopment, told FOX 13.

One of the project’s priorities will be looking for ways to improve mobility in the area.

"As much as I think buses are going to have to be part of it, I think we have to look well beyond buses," Eisenberg said. "It would be fantastic if we could reactivate some of the train lines, light rail lines that are not being used, because ultimately, my dream would be that you could connect this area to downtown to the airport and also to Ybor, because Ybor is where the Brightline station is going to be coming in from Orlando, hopefully in four or five years."

READ: Could vitamin C treat skin cancer? USF study shows promise

Part of the redevelopment plans may include some sort of commemoration of The Claw.

"We may actually end up preserving some of the holes on the north side of The Claw," Eisenberg told FOX 13.

USF leadership also said they’re working to ensure that the forest preserve – which is right next to the old golf course – is not disrupted by the new development.

USF will continue to collect resumes from interested developers until July. The plan is to request proposals from selected groups this fall.


SIGN UP: Click here to sign up for the FOX 13 daily newsletter