A new "University of Arizona, Chandler" campus is planned at the former Motorola facility on Price Road, Mayor Boyd Dunn said in his annual State of the City address this week.
"When you see that 'A' go up on that building, you'll know they have arrived," he said.
The mayor's speech, given Wednesday night at the Chandler Center for the Arts, attracted the mayors of Mesa, Gilbert and Maricopa.
Dunn also revealed that a technology company called Gangplank, comprising about 45 entrepreneurs, is set to relocate to downtown Chandler, and that prospective tenants plan to lease 250,000 square feet of commercial space in the Chandler Airpark industrial area by June. The arrival of new white collar, technology employers is "imminent," but he could not yet reveal their names, he said.
Discussions with UA President Robert Shelton to bring a campus to the 152-acre former Motorola site on the southeast corner of Price and Germann roads have been going on for about a year, Dunn said. The site recently was purchased by Capital Commercial Investments, which plans to redevelop it as an employment park called Continuum, aimed at housing several businesses capable of employing up to a total of 9,000 people, according to some estimates.
Chris Mackay, city economic development director, said the UA campus would host graduate classes in entrepreneurship and technology.
UA also is participating in the city's Innovations Technology Incubator/Accelerator, in a former Intel research and development facility at 145 S. 79th St., in a building also owned by Capital Commercial Investments. The $5.7 million facility's purpose is to provide research space to biotech startups in fields such as software design, engineering, biosciences, nanotechnology and sustainable technologies.
Dunn said talks with Arizona State University President Michael Crow to put a 3,000-student ASU satellite campus in downtown Chandler are ongoing. Crow has said he considers the area a "premium" site to put a "Colleges@ASU" campus by fall 2011.
"The Colleges@ASU are planned as small and focused undergraduate-only campuses that will allow bachelor's degrees to be offered in a more geographically dispersed fashion and at a lower tuition price than that at the current research campuses," Richard Stanley, senior vice president and university planner, recently told the Tribune.
Dunn said downtown Chandler is expected to reach a turning point this year with the completion of new city facilities like the five-story, $76 million City Hall now under construction and the newly completed fire department headquarters, as well as private investment.
"We're going vertical. The city of Chandler has a downtown center," Dunn said.
Even so, the city is facing an anticipated $17.5 million budget deficit next fiscal year. City Manager Mark Pentz recently recommended cutting 39 occupied city jobs to help close the gap.
Dunn acknowledged the city's budget woes, but said it's an opportunity to streamline. He said some employees likely will be offered early retirements.
"We need to adapt to an organization with fewer resources," he said.