Mesa has formally started negotiations with Westminster College to have the private liberal arts institution open a downtown campus. The City Council voted unanimously Thursday morning to work with the college toward a 5-year lease in a city-owned building. Classes would begin in fall 2013.
The city announced Westminster’s interest on Monday and now has entered into non-binding exclusive negotiations with the college to locate at the newly formed Mesa Center for Higher Education, 245 W. Second St. The 53,000-square foot building is a former city court. Westminster plans to occupy about 10,000 square feet.
The Mesa branch would be the first expansion for Westminster, which was founded in 1851 in Fulton, Mo. The campus is noted for hosting former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” speech there in 1946.
Westminster expects to enroll more than 500 undergraduates within five years and about 1,200 in 10 years.
Mesa expects to announce deals in the next few months with one or two other colleges who are interested in sharing the building. The city has been working for more than one year to bring several liberal arts colleges downtown as it seeks to increase education levels and revitalize the city’s historic core.
In January, Mesa formally began working with Illinois-based Benedictine University to locate in the former Tri-City Community Center.
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