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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Headin’ downtown

The Roy Place building, located downtown on the corner of Stone Avenue and Pennington Street, has recently been leased by the UA for classroom use. The building is under rennovation, and is planned for use by College of Architecture students.
The Roy Place building, located downtown on the corner of Stone Avenue and Pennington Street, has recently been leased by the UA for classroom use. The building is under rennovation, and is planned for use by College of Architecture students.

The UA’s first downtown property will be ready to hold classes starting next semester.

The Roy Place building, on the corner of North Stone Avenue and East Pennington Street, is the first component of UA Downtown.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors recently approved the UA to lease the building from Pima County at a rate of $1 per year, according to a Pima County Board of Supervisors memorandum. The UA currently has a five-year lease with an option to renew.

Jan Cervelli, dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, said discussions to move the program downtown began about two years ago. Other programs with an emphasis on urban planning and public policy will also use the building.

“”It’s an unmatched option for our students to be engaged where the action is,”” Cervelli said, who added that students will witness developments in downtown firsthand, including the process of designing infrastructure and streetscape.

The historic building, most recently a Walgreens drugstore, will house classrooms, an urban design studio and the Drachman Institute architecture studio.

The UA will invest $400,000 in renovating the building as part of the lease agreement, including installing new carpeting and classroom partitions. Brint Milward, director of the School of Government and Public Policy, said the university is working to make sure the transition is easy for students who will attend classes downtown.

“”The only thing that’s going to change is the venue, and we want to make sure that we have accessible parking, and we want to make sure we have security downtown,”” he said.

The space will allow students from various disciplines to work together on issues facing the city.

“”We have what I believe is a really powerful combination,”” Cervelli said.

The location of the building will also allow students to work with the city to gain firsthand experience in their fields.

“”There’s an awful lot of government downtown, and nonprofits as well,”” Milward said. “”We thought this was something that would make a lot of sense.””

Milward said the Master’s of Public Administration program would hold 12 evening and night classes in the Roy Place building next semester.

“”We’re very excited about it,”” Milward said. “”We’re excited about that, we’re excited about the sort of the renaissance of downtown that’s occurring, and we want to be part of that.””

The Roy Place building may be the start of a larger UA Downtown expansion.

Michael Keith, CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership, said plans for student housing downtown are under discussion.

“”You can begin to see how housing and the Roy Place building just forms this basis of the extension of the UA campus,”” Keith said.

Keith said the downtown area would benefit from the student and faculty presence, especially after the completion of the Tucson Modern Streetcar. The streetcar, expected to be operating by spring of 2013, will connect the UA campus with its downtown extension.

“”I think, on every level, that this is good for downtown and good for the university,”” Keith said.

Cervelli said downtown is a practical place for the university to extend as it expands.

“”As the campus adds students and adds programs, that’s a good direction for it to go in,”” she said.

Milward said the UA presence downtown benefits both the city and the university.

“”I think that in terms of economic development, in terms of bringing the community closer to the university, all those things are likely,”” Milward said. “”And I see students benefiting tremendously.””

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