Grand Canyon University To Establish Second Campus

PHOENIX — Grand Canyon University has announced plans to develop a new campus in Mesa, Ariz., advancing the private, for-profit Christian school’s goal of doubling enrollment by 2016.

In 2013, the school welcomed roughly 8,500 students to its original 155-acre Phoenix campus. In an effort to attract even more students, and accommodate them, the Significant Federation-owned university has embarked on multiple large-scale building projects in recent years. In 2011, the school added a 5,000-seat arena to its original Camelback Road campus. The same year crews also broke ground on the new College of Arts and Sciences classroom building. In Feb. 2013, GCU officials also announced that a four-story, 58,000-square-foot addition to the existing Student Union would follow, expanding dining and other services for the growing student population.

Just three months later, the school kicked off a slew of summer construction projects, while projecting a 30 percent increase in enrollment for the coming term. In addition to the two new five-story residence halls already well underway, the school also announced the construction of a new 33,700-square-foot classroom building, as well as plans to relocate the school’s library to the newly expanded Student Center.

However, the school’s biggest announcement came in late July as officials unveiled plans for a second Grand Canyon University campus in Mesa. The university selected the DMB-developed Eastmark community for its new 100-acre campus, with the option to expand by roughly 60 acres in the future. In a release, GCU President and CEO Brian Mueller said, “In selecting the Eastmark site, we were especially impressed with the integrated community concept DMB is creating. This environment will give our students, faculty and staff an exciting place to learn, work and play while being an integral part of the East Valley community.”

The school is currently anticipating a seven-year build out that will include new office buildings, administrative spaces, classrooms, labs, a library, student union, dormitories and recreational spaces. Construction of this new Mesa campus is expected to begin in 2014, with the first classrooms opening in fall 2015. According to Mueller, the school is also in talks to develop satellite campuses in Tucson, Las Vegas and Albuquerque after the Mesa campus is established.

To create space for it’s myriad construction projects, the school is seeking to acquire much of the real estate surrounding its Phoenix campus along Camelback Road. Though the school is reportedly offering above-market compensation in an area that had difficulty recovering from the economic downturn, some community members remain weary of the school’s rapid expansion. Plans to build in public parkland, as well as potential traffic increases and property value decreases, keep many on the fence. In response, Mueller insists that the university is determined to be a good neighbor and maintain positive relations with the surrounding community.