More than $300 million in renovations and new construction are on the horizon for the University of Arizona.
The Arizona Board of Regents, which governs the state’s three public universities, met at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff this week and approved the UA’s capital plan, which includes five new projects in addition to $79 million for projects on hold.
The biggest of the five new projects, costing $157 million, is an Honors College dormitory and parking garage, a campus recreation facility and an office building. That project will be funded through a public-private partnership between the UA and American Campus Communities.
The new housing facility, a six-story building to be located north of Speedway near Park Avenue, will include more than 1,000 beds, 14,000 square feet of dining hall and a 361-stall parking garage. Construction is set to begin in late 2017 and completed by fall 2019.
Nearby residents have protested the housing facility construction, citing previous issues they faced when the university expanded into their neighborhoods, the Star reported in March.
“Purposeful student programming and the relationship development that occurs through having staff living in and interacting directly with students has been proven to increase student satisfaction, involvement and retention across the nation,” the UA said in its project proposal.
The UA will also spend $18 million financed through bonds to renovate Building 90, which is home to the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. It is not related to the Oro Valley veterinary science program that repeatedly failed to get accreditation.
Building 90 has various deferred-maintenance needs, including issues with plumbing and heating and cooling systems.
The construction of a student success district, which UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson said would be a complex between the UA’s main library and Bear Down Gym, would includes space for tutoring, office space for student-support staff and a wellness center. It would also provide digital tools and networking opportunities.
Other projects include a renovation and building of an addition for the College of Pharmacy and the renovation of the Health Sciences building.
REAL ESTATE DEALS
The UA is selling land it owns near the U.S.-Mexico border to a natural gas pipeline project that would supply consumers in Mexico.
Sierrita Gas Pipeline, LLC., a project of Kinder Morgan, wants the 582 acres owned by the UA west of the Tucson Mountains by Arizona 86 to build a compressor station. It agreed to a negotiated price of $110,000.
The university said it had no immediate plans to use that land, which is in a rural area.
As part of the UA’s plan to expand its presence in Phoenix, it will purchase five parcels north of the Phoenix biomedical campus for $8.8 million. The university received the green light from the regents to go ahead with the purchase.
The UA worked with five individual owners to reach an agreement, Sigurdson said.
“Real estate in Phoenix does not stay open long,” he said. “I think it was an opportunity.”
The regents also approved a land exchange between the UA and Pima County. The university owns about 16 acres within the Santa Cruz River near Fort Lowell Road that was given to the UA by a ranch owner.
The county wants that land to expand the Santa Cruz river trail and offered up adjacent property it owns of similar value.
The UA property in the river was on a flood plain and came with liabilities. The deal would “relieve the UA of the liabilities associated with owning property within the Santa Cruz River,” according to the proposal.
The regents green-lighted the UA’s proposal for a new master of science degree in marketing in the Eller College of Management.
There is a growing demand for such a program, Provost Andrew Comrie told the regents. Many other universities with comparable business schools offer master of science degrees in marketing.
With the board’s approval, the program, which would focus on both conceptual frameworks of marketing and analytical tools, can start in the fall.