By BRIANNA HERNANDEZ
The goal to expand Pima Community College Downtown Campus became a reality when the owners of two adjacent properties recently approached the college to sell their lots.
“When we found out those properties were available, it was a great opportunity for us to see if we could negotiate some kind of deal,” said Bill Ward, PCC vice chancellor for facilities.
When the college conducted its last Facilities Master Plan in 2014, the Tucson Inn and Tucson Hotel and Resort property were proposed as potential properties for expansion.
According to Ward, the search for properties to expand on is ongoing because PCC often receives correspondence from community members about properties that may be available for college development.
In this case, the property owners approached PCC with the intent of selling to the college.
“The property owners came to the college, not the other way around,” said PCC spokeswoman Libby Howell. “We followed up on their proposals to see if the college could take advantage of these facilities.”
The estimated cost for the Tucson Inn is $1,028,500, and the estimated cost for the Tucson Hotel and Resort is $1,278,500.
Purchasing properties is a lengthy process that begins with the property owner submitting a proposal to PCC.
Ward then is tasked with looking over the proposal and further investigating the property. The college then conducts its own assessment to ensure that the property owner’s asking price is reasonable.
“The Tucson Hotel and Resort property had been for sale at double the cost,” Ward said. “The owners of the Tucson Inn had never really put their property on the market, so we had to look at what they were appraised for related to their taxes.”
Once the assessments are completed, a letter of intent between the college and property owner is signed. The letter states the college’s intent to purchase the property, pending PCC governing board approval.
On Sept. 13, Ward presented the property assessments to the PCC board.
“My goal was to take it to the board and receive approval,” Ward said. “The board then approved us to move forward to purchase the properties.
“What happens next is a licensing period in the sense that we are looking into the properties to ensure that the people we are negotiating with actually own them. A lot of times you go out and do this kind of stuff to find out the people you are negotiating with don’t actually own them.”
On Sept. 22, the college presented the purchase contract to the property owners per the terms laid out in the letter of intent.
Within the next few months, PCC will finalize buying contracts with the property owners as well as undergo property inspections and environmental assessments.
The plan is to close the purchases on Jan. 2, 2018.
There are no official plans for the two properties, but the primary discussion revolves around using the new properties to grow the college’s Center of Excellence focuses.
“The content and configuration for the Center of Excellence is just beginning to be discussed,” Howell said.
Currently, the Downtown Campus’ Center of Excellence is in applied technology.
“The college’s goal is to expand its occupational training program footprint at the Downtown Campus,” Ward said.
PCC has invited business partners in the community to discuss the current occupational programs available at PCC in order to gather feedback.
“We have to ensure that we are proposing the right type of training for the community,” Ward said. “Once we gather all that information, our goal is to start looking at what we are going to be building at those sites.”
PCC is strongly considering developing a new automotive and diesel training facility at the Tucson Hotel and Resort property, Ward said.
Because the Tucson Inn property is considered a historical property, the college is looking into the possibility of restoring the property in order to move other departments to the area.
“These properties would give the campus flexibility and breathing room, if you will, regarding the expansion and possible relocation activities that might be necessary pending the design and construction of the Center for Excellence,” Howell said.