Grand Canyon University Announces New Mesa Campus

July 31, 2013

The City of Mesa has landed its sixth university in the last two years. Grand Canyon University announced Tuesday that its new East Valley campus would be built in Mesa.

Grand Canyon University The new East Valley campus of GCU will be built in Mesa. (Photo by Al Macias-KJZZ)

The school is entering an unusual partnership with a major developer. Grand Canyon University had been looking for a site in the East Valley for about a year. Several cities were studied, then a few months ago Grand Canyon officials met with DMB, the developers of a large planned community in east Mesa near the Phoenix Mesa Gateway airport.

GCU President Brian Mueller said he was hesitant at first.

"I thought we shouldn’t be doing it. We’re wasting our time," Mueller said. "We got in that room, and they shared charts and graphs and photographs, a concept of a community that’s going to be rare extremely rare. It’s going to be built around educational innovation."

Mueller said the school will buy 100 acres of land in the Eastmark development for its new campus with an option for 60 more acres in the future. Eventually the East Valley campus will have about 10,000 students with on campus housing.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith spoke at a video presentation at GCU’s west Phoenix campus Tuesday. (Photo by Al Macias-KJZZ)

Drew Brown is with DMB development. He spoke after a video presentation at GCU’s west Phoenix campus Tuesday.

"Grand Canyon’s going to offer to us the kind of wonderful students you saw pictured in these images. The kind of faculty that will give vibrancy to our community and a work force that will allow jobs to be filled in the East Valley," Brown said.

GCU's decision to build a satellite campus in Mesa will help a large master-planned community sell more houses according to a Phoenix-based real estate consultant.  Real estate consultant Jim Belfiore said the new school will be boon to DMB's project.

"A university is a unique idea. I think that the homebuilders would like that because it creates immediate activity on site," Belfiore said. "When you see more people in a community, you're driving in to look at houses to purchase, it brings the community alive."

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith was also at the announcement ceremony.

"This will be a place that people will literally come from throughout this country to see how it can be done that you can create and interrelated, interactive," Smith said. "It will be very much like this campus, but take away all that’s here and adjust  to it and start from scratch and what would you do to take the best that is here and the best from elsewhere. At the city of Mesa, we are so grateful to have a role to facilitate that process."

Grand Canyon officials say they'll purchase 100 acres to develop the campus in Eastmark. There's potential for more growth in the future. Classes are scheduled to start in temporary buildings next fall.

Five other colleges and universities have plans for campuses in Mesa. Mesa councilman Scott Somers said GCU and the other schools are key to Mesa’s future.

GCUGrand Canyon University Arena at its current campus. (Photo by Al Macias-KJZZ)

"Mesa believes its promise and that of its universities are intertwined, that their headway will be joint and interdependent," Somers said.

Grand Canyon officials said they plan to begin offering classes in temporary facilities next fall and have permanent classrooms and buildings by the start of the 2015 school year.

Updated 7/31/13 at 12:00 p.m.

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