South Florida Housing Giant Gives Big to UM Medical Center

Big gifts come to hospitals in different ways, often from grateful former patients with serious wealth or from donors with specific interests. Here, we look at a local company giving back in a major way. 

The Lennar Corporation has a long history in Coral Gables. Founded in 1954, it began buying up what I imagine was abandoned cane fields and swampland and building quality homes. Miami in the 1950s was a big deal—boys freshly returned from fighting overseas, the warm climate, the nation’s emerging Disney fetish… it was the perfect storm.

With Leonard Miller at the helm, Lennar grew through the rest of the century. It embarked on housing projects in California, Arizona, Georgia, Delaware, Texas, North Carolina, and others, and it became fantastically wealthy.

Philanthropy apparently didn’t enter anyone’s mind until 1989, when the Lennar Foundation was established to start giving back to areas where Lennar homes have been built. "Our first office was in a home we built on Coral Way and SW 87th Avenue. Our roots, and our home office, have been here for all of those 60 years,” said Marshall Ames, Chairman of the Lennar Foundation.

Ames made that statement while announcing that the Lennar Foundation has given a $50 million lead gift to name the UHealth at Coral Gables ambulatory center the Lennar Foundation Medical Center. It is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2016.

The hospital seems to be an ambitious project, the kind of place touting general services and high-end specialty care all under one roof. The center will include the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and the award-winning Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. There will be urgent care, outpatient surgery, men’s and women’s health, sports medicine, physical therapy, diagnostic imaging, and radiation oncology. There’s even talk of relocating the UM Student Health Center to the new hospital.

“This gift from The Lennar Foundation will impact health and medicine across all of South Florida,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School of Medicine, and CEO of UHealth. “Every patient in South Florida will benefit from improved care as a result of this visionary gift. This facility will host the best doctors and nurses in the region, and they will deliver the most advanced health care for South Florida and beyond.”