Chandler giving UArizona $1M for new office space - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler giving UArizona $1M for new office space

March 27th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler giving UArizona $1M for new office space

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

The University of Arizona wants to expand its operations in Chandler – and wants taxpayers for $1 million to do so. City Council obliged on March 24, approving the request.

U of A already has been operating several ventures in the city. It recently opened its Global Campus, an online school that is in the process of becoming an official part of the university. Its Eller College of Management is an MBA program that combines both online and in-class learning.

It also offers a limited number of in-person classes as part of its Near You program. The in-person classes have been taught at the Chandler Community Center, which the city agreed to lease space to the university in 2012. 

U of A says it is ready to expand and wants to move into 10,000 square feet of office space inside the Johnathan Building in downtown.

It asked City Council to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the state Board of Regents to pay up to $1 million for tenant improvement costs, relocation, and reimbursement for rent expenditures for its lease inside the Johnathan.

In exchange, Chandler would receive discounted tuition fees for city employees, the university’s participation in the city’s annual Innovation Fair, hosting at least six open houses and/or athletic events at the Chandler location each year to promote programs to local residents.

The Johnathan, like its companion Alexander office building, Johnathan is an upscale five-story office building that boasts 107,500 square feet of modern workspace “tailored to the next-gen employee and forward-thinking employer.”

It offers a host of physical fitness-related and other amenities, including a dog-friendly patio, library, billiards room, on-site concierge and outdoor gaming area. Its health-related amenities include “spa-inspired showers,” on-site yoga, an “outdoor tranquil garden,” a juice-and-coffee room and even a room for mothers to tend to their babies’ needs. 

Chandler Economic Development Director Micah Miranda said it has been part of the city’s plan for years to bring more post-secondary opportunities to Chandler. 

He said the city will benefit from the leasing relationship because it would work with the university on which programs are available, giving U of A a chance to educate a workforce to fill many of the tech jobs needed by all the companies expected to move to the city.

“We really work with them to increase their service offering within the community, to really focus on tech-oriented training to closely align with our goals as a community and our economic development framework,” Miranda said.

Council members expressed some concerns during a March 21 study session, though there was no major objections voiced.

“This is an innovative idea,” said Councilman Mark Stewart. “It’s not very often that cities give dollars to help universities which get state funding. It falls under the umbrella of economic development.”

Miranda said the university hopes to start classes inside the Johnathan in August. It would be a five-year lease, with an option for another five years. 

Most of the Council appeared to be supportive.

“Let’s continue to move this thing forward,” Councilwoman Christine Ellis said. “I think I’m hoping to see more of that coming through.”

Councilman Matt Orlando said he’s intrigued by the proposal.

“The high schools are doing these cyber security, cyber ops,” he said. “Now we have the community college, I just love this linkage to the higher education scenario.”

Mayor Kevin Hartke pointed out that Intel is working with local community colleges to do training, not just for high-tech jobs but also for manufacturing positions. 

Miranda assured him that would also be part of what U of A offers. He told Council that the school currently offers 10 certificates for training in tech fields that Chandler employers are looking to fill.

“This is a great opportunity for Chandler residents to get involved,” said Councilman OD Harris.