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Orlando is the No. 1 pick in a four-round selection match for a planned $30 million, 120,000-sf Florida A&M University law school that could trigger multimillion-dollar commercial projects in the project’s Downtown perimeter. The second-round rankings are Aug. 21.

Orlando beat out Lakeland, Tampa and Daytona Beach in the opening round. The city scored 2,094.5 points; Lakeland, 1,965; Tampa, 1,579.2; and Daytona Beach, 1,462.2. The rating system took in land, buildings, utilities and location. A FAMU advisory committee and the Florida Board of Regents ranked the cities.

Orlando threw out the biggest carrot–a free, $6.57 million, 3.1-acre site at Hughey Avenue and Robinson Street; a $1-a-year lease for temporary law school space in 15,000 sf on Downtown Orange Avenue; reduced or waived building permit fees and charges totaling $547,600; and $250,000 worth of scholarships. The total package is valued at $9.8 million.

The state is pledging $15 million for the project, provided the selected city comes up with the same amount. University officials are planning the first class next fall in a temporary facility. They hope to have a permanent law school home ready by Aug. 1, 2003.

The current city selection race stems from last April’s decision in Tallahassee where legislators approved law schools at FAMU and Miami’s Florida International University, both primarily for minority and part-time students.

The legislature agreed FAMU’s law school should be located in Central Florida, even though the main campus of the historically black university is in Tallahassee, the state capital.

Florida’s two other public law schools are at the University of Florida in Gainesville and Florida State University in Talllahassee.

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