By Mara Knaub for Yuma Sun
After receiving $100K in grant funding for a proposed “multiversity” campus, the inaugural Board of Directors met April 26 to begin discussing the project. The Yuma Multiversity Campus will serve as an education hub for existing institutions of higher education and the degrees they offer.
The board discussed bringing community, academic and industry partners together for complete planning and development that will be key to turn the multiverse concept into a reality.
Downtown University Plan
In 2017, the council adopted a plan for revitalizing the Old Town South Subarea that includes an initial combined downtown university and research park with a campus for up to 4,000 students, 300KSF in building space and up to 430KSF in student housing.
The approximately 28-acre research and development park, up to 250KSF in size, would have 1,000 to 1,500 employees. This would provide opportunities for development of large and small lots and repurpose historic structures as support facilities.
The plan dovetails with the city’s 2014 Revitalization Plan, which includes enhanced streetscape, public trails and paths, public parking and revitalization of the historic Southern Pacific Freight Depot, Gila Street Greenway and Black Hill Trail and Overlook.
The academic campus would be organized around a central mall originating at the intersection of Giss Parkway and Madison Avenue and running diagonally southeast toward the intersection of 6th Street and Arizona Avenue. The primary campus buildings would be arranged along this central mall with pavilion structures as focal points within the mall and gathering spaces.
At the southern edge of the campus an east-west extension would connect the area to student housing and the residential neighborhood. The plan also calls for transition and buffer elements from campus to adjacent neighborhoods.
At the NEC of the campus the existing railroad depot building would be converted into a restaurant/retail or student union.
To begin, the plans calls for establishing pedestrian and vehicular connections, organized into four zones: academic campus to the northwest, historic preservation to the north, research park to the east and south, and residential buffer on the west.
During the first five years, the plan calls for attracting one or more universities to partner in developing a campus for 2,000 to 4,000 students. In the long run, the objective is to expand the campus to 5,000 to 10,000 students and develop the research park.
The city will work with property owners to propose land trades of other city-owned properties or the direct acquisition of these properties needed for right-of-way, campus assemblage or other public projects such as parking and stormwater retention sites.
The city will take the lead in street construction and reconstruction early in the program implementation as well as streetscape improvements as opportunities are presented. The city will also offer support and incentive programs, such as city fee waivers, for initial development of the campus and research park.
For years 5 through 20, the focus would be on secondary streetscape, bike paths and greenway improvements outside of the core area on a project-by-project basis, unless major funding is found to complete the improvements.
As funding is available, other streets, paths and trails will be constructed, with special attention given to linking existing residential neighborhoods and the revitalization area.
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