Building a college campus in downtown Mesa would give residents access to higher education, help revitalize central Mesa and allow students to use major city facilities, including the new Mesa Arts Center and planned aquatic facility, according to a consultant’s draft report.
The report, created by the Maryland financial consulting firm Hunter Interests and obtained Wednesday by the Tribune, validates plans by Mesa Community College and city officials to create a sprawling urban campus in Mesa’s square-mile downtown.
"It gives the college and its partners very interesting food for thought for what we’re trying to do in downtown Mesa," said Bernie Ronan, executive director for the Center for Public Policy at MCC.
Built in two phases over 15 years, the project would cost between $44.7 million and $100 million, the report suggests. The first phase is estimated at $15.6 million to $31.9 million, according to the report.
MCC President Larry Christiansen pointed out that building MCC’s Red Mountain Campus cost about $20 million.
"This gives us for the first time a good sense of the numbers," Christiansen said.
The plan depends on a successful bond election in November 2004 for the Maricopa Community College District.
MCC officials believe a campus in central Mesa would help alleviate crowding at the main campus at Southern Avenue and Dobson Road. City officials see an opportunity to bring more people downtown and make college accessible to more of the city’s Hispanic population.
The report suggests two phases.
Phase one, which runs from the present to 2010, includes adding 17,000 square feet to the school’s Business and Industry Institute, located in the squaremile; buying the building at 165 N. Centennial Way that houses the school’s Center for Public Policy; building a 40,000 to 80,000-squarefoot technology center near the main library; remodeling the current Mesa Arts Center for classes and adding between 20,000 and 40,000 square feet; locating the campus administrative headquarters in the city’s Rendezvous Center; and develop new programs at the main library for college students.
Phase two calls for two buildings totaling 80,000 to 160,000 square feet and a parking garage for 500 to 1,500 cars. Construction costs for phase two range from $29 million to $68 million.