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GAINESVILLE, FL-For the second time in a month, prominent commercial real estate developers and investors have donated millions in cash and land to area universities. The newest donor is Jim Pugh, owner of Winter Haven-based Epoch Properties Inc., a developer of hotels, timeshares and rental housing.

Pugh and his wife, Alexis, are donating $5 million to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida for the construction of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service. The building will be named the Jim and Alexis Pugh Hall. Construction is tentatively set for summer 2006 with completion by 2008. A matching $5-million grant from the state is expected for the project.

In October, Orlando developer-investor Joe Lewis pledged a $12.5-million cash gift and $8 million worth of prime developable land to the University of Central Florida in Orlando for the construction of a $58-million medical school on 50 acres at his affluent Lake Nona community and country club in south Orlando, as GlobeSt.com reported Oct. 11.

Bob Graham is a former Florida governor and US senator. Pugh says he has known Graham for 50 years. Pugh earned his bachelor’s degree in building construction from UF in 1963. He and Graham were fraternity brothers at the university.

Epoch Properties has developed 30,000 apartment units in 56 cities in its 35-year existence. Pugh is also chairman of Epoch Management, a real estate management firm he started in 1973. Graham, now retired, is working with Florida and the University of Miami to create two centers that will focus on public leadership, the Americas and homeland security.

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