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    Video: Michael Ojo has Shaq-sized feet

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    CollegeTown experiencing tremendous success

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    Seminole Boosters investment in the CollegeTown project, combined with the City of Tallahassee's efforts to redevelop Gaines Street, has gained the attention of local, regional and national developers and retailers and the once-blighted warehouse district is quickly being revitalized.

    When conceived, CollegeTown was viewed as a catalyst to help transform a warehouse area into a mixed-use live, study and play district that would contribute to the local economy through new businesses and jobs, enhance the quality of life and have a positive lift on the local tax base.

    On the first anniversary of CollegeTown's groundbreaking, it is time to assess the project, its impact on the Boosters, the University, the City of Tallahassee and to look ahead to where the CollegeTown district is heading.

    Key milestones in year one:

    • CollegeTown Phase One opened in August 2013 with 100 percent of its 71 apartments occupied and 70 percent of retail space leased for fall 2013 outperforming its investment objectives.
    • The CollegeTown District welcomed Urban Outfitters in January 2014
    • Retail space in CollegeTown Phase One is now fully leased and providing better than expected cash flow.
    •  North American Properties cited CollegeTown as a catalyst for investing $67 million in the CollegeTown district bringing more than 400 residential units and 45,000 square feet of retail space for the summer of 2014 including a letter of intent from a national fashion retailer to complement Urban Outfitters.
    • Seminole Boosters signed a lease with CVS Pharmacy at the corner of Woodward and Pensacola which will more than quadruple the Boosters cash flow on that property and adds to the value of the Boosters' real estate holdings.
    •  As a result of investment interest in the CollegeTown area, Seminole Booster real estate holdings have more than doubled.


    What's ahead:

    • Local, regional and national retailers have taken notice of the density of the CollegeTown area, with more than 10,000 resident students living in a walkable half-mile radius.
    • Several national retailers have signed leases or letters of intent with a major grocer and a boutique hotel showing serious interest.
    • The haunted house site on the corner of Gaines and Woodward has been acquired by a related party for high end alumni condos as well as a 450-plus car parking garage for CollegeTown for Fall 2015
    • While there's work to do, the creation of an entertainment area close to Florida State football, baseball and basketball venues will continue to enhanced the fan's weekend experience and translate into ticket sales and Booster memberships.
    •  The CollegeTown District is beginning to foster the town-and-gown experiences for faculty, staff, students and alumni originally envisioned.
    • Seminole Boosters will continue to work with the university and local government to plan future development along the Madison Mile and College Town district.

    "We are very happy with this first step of this long term project and with the progress many of our retailers have made in the inaugural year," said Andy Miller, President of Seminole Boosters. "We'll continue to work together with our merchants and with local government to improve the experience as we move into the second year of operation. Financially, CollegeTown has exceeded our investment expectation for the first year. We're pleased with the growth in the area and are moving forward with plans for future growth."

    What others are saying about CollegeTown

    CollegeTown as catalyst for development:

    "When the Seminole Boosters made the investment into CollegeTown with the University's and local government support we saw the energy of the campus moving South to Gaines Street. The City allowed higher density -- four-stories of residential over retail - which was also instrumental in our ability to invest. If not for these factors we wouldn't be here."

    Shawn McIntyre, managing partner North American Properties


     "With a redevelopment project, the first thing that draws attention is the presence of restaurants and bars. Entertainment attract beds. The Seminole Boosters introduction of CollegeTown, a mixed-use development, brought bars and restaurants to the area and the apartment developers quickly followed. Now, more than 4,000 beds are either just opened or under construction within a walkable distance of CollegeTown.

    Alan Hooper, founder and president Hooper Construction


     "Though the name CollegeTown involves the word "college", the CollegeTown experience is hardly focused on just students. While areas like Midtown have fairly clear demographics, CollegeTown is truly a melting pot of young professionals, professionals and students in one area, even through the weekends."

    Matt Thompson, managing partner Madison Social at CollegeTown


    On affect CollegeTown has on tax base:

    "We purchased one piece of property that was paying just $12,000 per year in real estate taxes and the other property had a real estate tax exemption. When we are finished with our properties we will have created $1 million a year in tax base and I would imagine the same is true for many of the other developments in the area."

    Shawn McIntyre, managing partner North American Properties



    On retail performance:

    "There is a natural selection and maturation process that always occurs when you redevelop an area.  With less than one year into this development, the CollegeTown area is enjoying a very exciting time. We are working with the current merchants, to help them be more successful and at the same time, we are getting calls from local, regional and national reps that recognize the opportunity in and around CollegeTown.  There is huge interest from an array of retailers to enter the market."

    Alan Hooper, founder and president Hooper Construction


    Progress made and the future:

    "From the first football game through the last, it is clear that CollegeTown gained steam as a home game weekend destination as well as an away game gathering for watch parties. The Miami game weekend was the peek of the traffic with customers spilling into the streets to partake in the CollegeTown offerings. And baseball season is proving to be as fruitful as the Tallahassee weather provides the backdrop to catch a burger, beer and a baseball game."

    Matt Thompson, managing partner Madison Social at CollegeTown


     "Where else are you going to find this kind of density anywhere in Tallahassee and then narrow down the niche to the 18-24 year old demographic?  By fall of 2014 we will have 4,000 new pairs of legs within a tight, walkable four-block area. This is a retailers dream.  If you are selling something to that age group in Tallahassee, CollegeTown is like the bullseye on the target. Urban Outfitters knew exactly what they were doing when they chose CollegeTown over all other markets" 

    Alan Hooper, founder and president Hooper Construction


    "When we began programming CollegeTown three years ago one of the first uses identified by students and faculty alike was a pharmacy. We studied our holdings in the district, identified the most appropriate site and approached CVS Pharmacy about developing an urban pharmacy. They eagerly agreed and we are finalizing our plans now for a 2-story, parking in the rear, urban CVS. They will provide basic goods to the district and have fully embraced our architectural guidelines. They will replace the worn convenience store at the NE corner of Woodward and Pensacola with a building that mimics the look and feel of the Florida State campus and will add to the direct connectivity between the heart of campus and CollegeTown."

    Will Butler, founder and president of Real Estate InSync

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    Video: Jameis Winston and some pre-game tomfoolery

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    Capital Records recording artist Jon Pardi will be the headline performer at the April 11 Friday Night Block Party. The event takes place the night before Florida State football's annual spring game inside Doak Campbell Stadium.

    The opening act for the free concert at Kleman Plaza downtown is The Adam Craig Band.

    Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend is the presenting sponsor of this Sunday's FSU men's basketball game against Georgia Tech at 6pm. Goodwill is conducting a donation drive at the game and will have donation bins and a truck outside of the northwest plaza main entrance of the Donald L. Tucker Center.

    'Noles fans looking to make a difference in the community are encouraged to bring a donation item to the game. As an added incentive for helping create jobs in the big bend with your support of Goodwill, the first 50 people to donate an item will receive a free ticket to the upcoming Florida State men's basketball game vs Syracuse on March 9th.

    Old hats, clothes, coats, and household items as well as old electronics and small furniture are considered acceptable donation items. All donations are considered tax deductible and Goodwill Industries will have staff members on hand to issue receipts.

    New 'Super 16' poll announced for '14 football season

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    Courtesy of the FWAA:

    IRVING, Texas (Feb. 25, 2014) - The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF) announced today that they will jointly conduct a weekly major-college football poll during the 2014 season.

    Officially, the poll will be known as the "FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16" poll, named in honor of the great sportswriter who became an influential leader of the NFF during its early years in the late 1940s. Rice played a key role in the history of both organizations as an FWAA member and NFF president. His name adorns the FWAA national championship trophy that has been presented since 1954, and he helped select the FWAA All-America teams until his death in 1954.

    "We are proud to partner with the FWAA on the launch of the Grantland Rice Super 16 poll," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "Objectivity represents a core value for both our organizations, and we hope that by combining the credibility of both our organizations that we'll provide a fun reference point for fans to follow during the college football season."

    The pollsters will consist of FWAA writers, College Football Hall of Famers and NFF Board Members. The poll aims to draw on the vast knowledge of the nation's top journalists with extensive experience covering college football in combination with some of the greatest legends to have ever played or coached the game as well as the perspectives of several of the gridiron's most respected and influential administrators.

    "We are extremely excited to announce this first poll in conjunction with the National Football Foundation at a time when major college football is ushering in a new era," said 2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls. "I can't think of a better partner in jointly producing the 'Grantland Rice Super 16' poll of the best teams in the nation.

    "Our poll will include distinguished past presidents of the FWAA as well as outstanding NFF Hall of Famers who have given so much to the game we all love and who hope to bring more insight to college football and enjoyment of this fine game. We feel we can provide a very valuable poll of some of the best-credentialed voters and most knowledgeable, objective college football minds around."

    The decision to conduct the new poll was made in December and January by the boards of both organizations at the conclusion of the 2013 season. Long-time partners since the formation of the two organizations in the 1940s, the FWAA and NFF will pool 36 voters (26 from the FWAA and 10 from the NFF) ranking the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. The poll will be announced on Sundays during the 2014 season, culminating with a final release on Dec. 7, the day after the conference championship games.

    The 26 FWAA voters, all current or past writers of national stature, will be selected to ensure balanced-geographical representation. The 10 NFF voters, comprised of Hall of Fame players, coaches and administrators, will also add to the diversity of perspectives, coming from different conferences and regions of the country. The names and affiliations of the voters will be released to the general public in early summer, and their votes will be made public each week during the season.

    The FWAA, which possesses a reputation as one of the foremost objective voices in college football, has conducted a pre-season poll for a number of years and has also had a weekly poll in the past. Both organizations have used panels at the conclusion of the college football season to determine the recipients of their respective national championship trophies. Since 1959, the NFF has presented the MacArthur Bowl, named for the famous Army general who was a guiding father of the NFF in the early years, and since 1954, the FWAA has bestowed the Grantland Rice Trophy to its national champion.

    Video: Jameis Winston's SportsCenter Sunday Conversation

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    FSU's Eric J. Barron named Penn State President

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    Courtesy of Pennsylvania State University:

    UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th president of Penn State has been named by the University's Board of Trustees. Eric J. Barron, a former dean at Penn State and current leader of Florida State University, will begin as Penn State's next president on May 12, 2014.

    After an exhaustive search, Barron was appointed today (Feb. 17) during a special meeting of the University's Board of Trustees on the unanimous recommendation of the 14-member Trustee Presidential Selection Council, chaired by Trustee Karen Peetz. Barron will succeed Rodney A. Erickson, who in 2012 announced his intention to retire before June 30, 2014.  A link to information about the president-elect's compensation will be posted online at as soon as it is available.

    History of accomplishment

    Barron, 62, has served as president of Florida State University in Tallahassee since 2010. In this role, he oversees Florida State University's 16 colleges that offer more than 275 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, professional and specialist degree programs, including medicine and law. Serving nearly 41,000 students, Florida State is one of the largest and oldest of the 11 institutions of higher learning in the State University System of Florida.

    Before his presidency at Florida State University, Barron held a number of notable positions within higher education, including dean of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences from 2002 to 2006, having become a member of the Penn State faculty in 1986.

    "My wife, Molly, and I spent 20 years at Penn State, where I served as a faculty member, center director and dean.  In that time, I learned what it meant to continually strive for excellence - to make every year stronger than the year before," Barron said. "I also came to understand the power of this community, we are unbeatable when we are working together for a common purpose. It is an honor to lead this great University."

    Scholar, educator, administrator and researcher

    "In Eric Barron, we have found a president who is energetic, innovative and dedicated to maximizing the potential of our great institution," said Board Chairman Keith Masser in introducing Barron to the board. "Dr. Barron has a track record as an accomplished educator, highly respected researcher, an effective administrator and an internationally recognized scholar. It is clear that Eric Barron is not only familiar with our University, but also has the experience and knowledge to lead us forward, continuing our path of excellence."

    Trustee Peetz agreed and said that Barron's credentials and proven leadership abilities brought his name to the top of the list. The executive search firm Isaacson, Miller contacted nearly 400 individuals regarding the position, as well as tapping into another 150, who were asked to suggest individuals who might be available for the position.  Of particular interest to the selection committee was Barron's role leading a doctoral research university that also has a law school and a college of medicine, as well as his strategic plan to take Florida State University into the top 25 ranking of national public universities.

    Looking toward the future

    "This is certainly a pivotal time in the history of Penn State, and Eric Barron is the eminent leader that our University needs to take us to the next level of academic excellence and national prominence," said Peetz. "Dr. Barron has remarkable experience in so many facets of higher education and within the communities of which he has been a part. He has demonstrated strengths in fiscal matters, strategic planning, leadership and communication, and his track record for partnering with the community is stellar."

    While leading Florida State University, Barron directed the university's rise to a U.S. News & World Report ranking as the most efficiently operated university in the nation.

    From 2008 to 2010, Barron served as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), a prominent federally funded research and development laboratory in Boulder, Colo., devoted to service, research and education in the atmospheric and related sciences. Barron had previously been a scientist at NCAR from 1981 to 1985.

    Before his NCAR directorship, Barron was dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas-Austin, from 2006-2008, where he oversaw the task of building a school that just four years before had received a single gift of $282 million for the purpose of creating a school of geosciences. A major research university, the University of Texas at Austin is the largest institution in the University of Texas system and is home to more than 50,000 students.

    In the previous two decades, Barron was a familiar figure at Penn State. From 1986 to 2006, he served in various positions at Penn State, including professor of geosciences, director of the Earth System Science Center, director of the EMS Environmental Institute and dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. He also earned the title of distinguished professor of geosciences at Penn State, and was named winner of both the Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching (1999) and the Wilson Award for Excellence in Research (1992) in recognition of both his scholarly distinction and his outstanding teaching. Barron came to Penn State after one year on the faculty of the University of Miami.

    He is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society and the Geological Society of America. Barron is a highly recognized scientist and has received a number of national awards as a scholar, researcher and distinguished lecturer, including NASA Group Achievement Award and NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal.

    His expertise in the areas of climate, environmental change and oceanography, among other earth science topics, have led to extensive service for the federal government and the international community. He has served as a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is a member of its science advisory board; a member of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, director's advisory committee; and chair, Committee on Ocean Infrastructure Strategy for U.S. Ocean Research in 2030.

    Barron brings to Penn State nearly 35 years of experience in academic administration, education, research and public service, as well as fiscal management within large and complex institutions.

    Barron, who was at the board meeting Monday, said that he looks forward to again working with Penn State faculty, staff, students and alumni in advancing Penn State's core mission.

    "I am thrilled to take on the leadership role of one of the nation's most prestigious universities," Barron said. "Penn State, already well-known for its high academic standards, its innovative research, global vision and unmatched public service, is well-positioned for the future and for creating more opportunities for students, as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." 

    "The appointment of Dr. Barron as Penn State's next president ensures an excellent future for our University," said Dean Ann (Nan) Crouter, chairman of the University Presidential Search and Screen Committee, an 18-member group composed of students, faculty and staff. "He has been an outstanding faculty member, highly regarded researcher and an administrator who understands the roles and dynamics of the academic community. He has a remarkable record in building enrollment while ensuring academic excellence and diversity, and his desire to be inclusive in his decision making is something that is very important to our community."

    A native of Lafayette, Ind., Barron received a bachelor of science degree in geology from Florida State University, a master's degree and Ph.D, both in oceanography, from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.

    The president-elect and his wife, Molly, an educator, will live in Schreyer House on the University Park campus. The Barrons have two grown children, Emily and James.

    See what other Penn State leaders are saying about the appointment of Eric J. Barron as University president.

    Freeman wants to be role model for Liberty City youth

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    Check out this article from CBS Miami on former 'Noles tailback Devonta Freeman: FSU Running Back Aims To Inspire Liberty City Youth.

    In the article, Freeman, who is a likely NFL Draft selection this spring, talks about the challenges he faced growing up and the chase to capture his football dream. 

    FSU on YouTube