Monday, February 20, 2006

Article on AMU and AMT from Naples News

Here's another story on the ground breaking ceremony courtesy Naples News. Pay attention to the sentences in bolds and italics, as we will be following up on them in the next few days.

Catholic university and town mark beginning of a new era for Collier County

By Jenna Buzzacco (Contact)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Friday's event started just as any other at Ave Maria University, with a prayer.

But this prayer was different. Instead of standing behind an altar in the Stella Maris chapel on the North Naples campus, the Rev. Joseph Fessio battled bugs and heat to say his blessing.

"Almighty and eternal author of life and Lord of history ... we ask for absolute blessing now and always on Ave Maria," Fessio said.

After the crowd of about 400 invited guests, including Gov. Jeb Bush, said a resounding "amen," the groundbreaking ceremony for the town of Ave Maria began, marking the beginning of a new era for the Catholic university.

"I thought (Collier County) would be the easiest place in the country to get students and faculty to come," said AMU founder Tom Monaghan.

AMU is the first Catholic university to be built in the United States in around 40 years, but when Monaghan dreamed of a place where young Catholics would foster, he didn't stop at a university.

Lamar Gable, chairman of Barron Collier Cos., said Friday that Ave Maria, between Immokalee and Naples, will be similar to a European hill town. While the oratory is expected to be the centerpiece of the community, the 1,000-acre campus also will play an important role in shaping Ave Maria.

The first phase of the town and university is scheduled to be complete in 2007, and Barron Collier Cos. has received thousands of requests for information about housing within the community, Monaghan said.

"I think (the town) is going to bring a lot of people from all over the country to Southwest Florida," Monaghan said. "This town is going to be conducive to families."

Monaghan said the town's signature will be the prairie style design and the green copper roofs. But turning it green has proven tricky in Florida's climate.

"The challenge is, this is the only place in the world where you can treat the copper to be green and it turns black," Monaghan joked. "We have a warehouse filled with rolls and rolls of copper, but we just haven't figured out how to keep it green yet."

The town will offer a variety of residential neighborhoods, as well as condominiums on the upper floors of retail space. Ave Maria eventually will have about 11,000 residential units, though it's still not enough units to accommodate the 20,000 inquiries the company already has received, Monaghan said.

But Ave Maria will be more than a new community based in the Catholic faith. It will also serve as the home of AMU.

"This is largely symbolic," AMU president Nick Healy said. "The students are getting very excited. I can say I would be amazed if they all didn't want to come out and see the progress, but it's just not safe right now. Every so often we will have opportunities for the students to visit and see the progress."

Friday's groundbreaking was only ceremonial, Healy said, mainly because vertical construction for the project started earlier this year. The ceremony originally was scheduled for early last November, but was postponed because of Hurricane Wilma. While there was no damage to the site, organizers thought it wouldn't be proper to celebrate while others were suffering. Instead organizers donated the $50,000 they had planned to use for the ceremony to the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee.

Healy said the foundation already has been poured for the school's library, and it's expected the foundation for the science, math and technology building will be poured in the near future.

The first residents of Ave Maria could move in as early as spring 2007, Gable said.

"I encourage you to stop and take a look at the town in a few years," Gable said. "The good Lord has 100 years invested in this project, and we better not disappoint or else he'll cause trouble."


At 4:19 PM, Blogger Advocatus Militaris said...


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