Regents OK UA’s plan to buy mini-dorm property for $950,000

The Arizona Board of Regents approved the UA’s request to purchase a privately owned property that includes a mini-dorm for $950,000.

The property at 1501 E. Mable Street, near North Cherry Avenue, is a 7,125-square-foot site, which includes a 2,751-square-foot building that serves as a seven-bedroom dorm. The deal also includes the University of Arizona paying nearly $41,000 to relocate tenants who have leases through the summer 2020.

Lisa Rulney, senior vice president of business affairs, told regents the short-term use of the property for the school would likely be for office space.

The UA said the property, owned by 1501 Mabel St. LLC., is strategically located in an area for future campus uses, and is located on a block that is nearly entirely owned by the university.

The regents approved the request unanimously and without comment at their board meeting Thursday at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Rulney told regents the school needed to purchase the property to use for future campus growth but also to acquire it before private developers buy it and possible use the property in a way that’s not compatible with the campus. “We must act quickly and decisively when property becomes available,” she said.

At a regents committee hearing two weeks ago several regents questioned the high price for the property, with Regent Jay Heiler, saying the school was getting “hosed in that deal.”

The Pima County assessor’s office lists the full cash value of the property — not an appraisal figure — at nearly $330,000. The real-estate website Zillow has a market value for the property — which was listed as not being for sale — of about $396,000. The website said similar homes in the neighborhood are for sale for $415,000 to $420,000. The UA had the property appraised, but the figure is not made public until the deal is completed or cancelled.

Rulney said Thursday the purchase price takes into consideration the increasing property values near campus and the loss of the future revenue that would have been generated for the private owner through the room rentals.

Washington, DC, office space

The UA also received regents approval to lease prime office space about three blocks from the White House as part of the school’s first “full-service” facility in the nation’s capital. Regents approved the consent-agenda item without commenting.

The proposal will have the UA paying nearly $1.2 million a year in rent, operating expenses and real-estate taxes for about 15,000 square feet of space in the new One Freedom Plaza building at 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The lease agreement still needs to be finalized.

As proposed, the school will lease about half of the building’s fifth floor. The new 13-story building, developed by Quadrangle Development Corp., will be the site for the UA’s Center for Outreach and Collaboration.

The center will house a variety of UA programs, including the school’s federal relations office, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, the Research, Discovery and Innovation Office and the new Semester in Washington Presidential Fellowship Program as well as other programs and offices.

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