By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
The college asked the Board of Governors for permission to
spend the money required to
purchase The Tucson Inn, 127 W. Drachman Road, and Tucson Hotel and Resort, 333 W. Drachman Road, at the Sept 13 board meeting.
The chancellor envisions the properties having two different uses for the college.
“If you go to some training programs and other places … An example (is) just go up the road into Phoenix, Grand Canyon University students actually run a hotel and a restaurant,” said Chancellor Lee Lambert in a recent interview.
However, he stressed that this isn’t what is planned right now, but it is a possibility.
Also in Phoenix, he described automotive facilities where “you could eat off the floor.” The term “automotive facility” was also being thrown around in conversation.
“We want to make sure that we create the environment in which students have the best learning experience we as team in this community college can offer,” Lambert said. “A part of that involves having the right facilities for you to learn in the context of, and then delivering the right kinds of programs that are really needed in the community.”
The hefty price tag on these two properties wasn’t pocket change for the college. Together, they cost the college $1.25 million, according to property acquisition documents.
Yet, according to Lambert, this won’t cut from anything new. The revenue that is being used is old revenue that recently received the go-ahead to use in the Sept. 13 board meeting.
Unused college space
While the revenue may be old, the ideas aren’t. In fact, the ideas stated above aren’t concrete at all.
The properties are more for when Pima does have an idea on what to do they will have the square footage.
“The college currently has a lot of underutilized square footage, so that’s not always a good sign that we’re sitting on a lot of underutilized square footage,” Lambert said. “But for the kinds of training that are some of the things I was describing earlier, our square footage is not adequate for that purpose.”
Campuses not closing
Even though Pima has purchased these properties, this doesn’t mean that any of its campuses will be closing any time soon.
“I have to be careful to not use that word loosely, cause that’s the last place I want to go,” Lambert said. “It’s more about the partnerships coming in and taking advantage of opportunities in our and to help us deliver on our mission. And if that’s not possible, then we will explore other options.”
The square footage that is being underused isn’t enough square footage to provide for the new things that the chancellor has envisioned.
If you first thought about unused areas being East Campus, you’re not wrong. You’re just not all the way right. According to Lambert, East, Northwest and Community campuses all have space that isn’t being used to the fullest potential.
“There might be other locations that we can think about completely moving operations out of and locating them to another location that isn’t fully utilized,” Lambert said. “And we can look at some other type of partnership arrangement for that space.”
Partnerships in the form of different school districts could mean that the campuses will be used, but it could that it won’t be by pima.
“I want East Campus to have Pima classes, but I can’t speak for 5, 10, 15 years from now,” Lambert said. “But at this stage I don’t want to envision a scenario where we’re not going to offer classes.”