By Peter Madrid for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
A repurposed former spa opened its doors Aug. 2 as a 30KSF, state-of-the-art digital media arts school at Peoria’s P83 entertainment district.
Huntington University, the Arizona Center for Digital Media Arts, will start classes in the West Valley on Aug. 29. University and city officials celebrated with a ceremonial ribbon cutting this week at the school, located at 8353 W. Mariners Way.
Huntington is Peoria’s first standalone university. The building previously housed a Dolce Salon & Spa. The three-story school features two studios, a control room, a screening room, a 50-seat theater, editing labs, a student lounge, faculty offices, and computer media labs.
Imagine Builders of Scottsdale performed the tenant improvements. NAI Horizon’s Troy Giammarco and Nathan Pancrazi represented Huntington University in the sale and lease negotiations. It was one of the largest lease deals in Peoria this year.
“The biggest challenge was to take the school’s vision and get the board, the school, the city, the contractors and everyone involved to see that this was the right place to be,” Giammarco said. “It’s next to the movie theater, next to the City of Peoria’s entertainment district, and next to the [San Diego and Seattle] spring training fields, in which the students can do outdoor photography. They can also have a collaborative relationship with the Harkins Theater.”
After an Economic Development Agreement (EDA) was secured with Peoria in 2015, the NAI Horizon team and school officials narrowed a list of 24 potential sites to six.
“Troy was instrumental in bringing us options and personally walking us through this building and envisioning what was possible,” said Huntington University Director of Operations Jeff Berggren. “Picking P83 was a win-win for the school and the city. It’s a great facility. What’s neat about this space is that we were able to repurpose a lot. We did have to move some walls, but overall we were able to repurpose.”
Huntington University officials say they are expecting an initial class of about 25 for the fall semester, and about 50 for the spring 2017 semester. With a year to recruit, they would like to see 100 next fall. Associate Dean of Arts Lance Clark said the goal is for 350 to 400 students in the next two to four years. The university will offer four-year B.A. and B.S. degrees in digital media arts.
The Indiana-based university will offer curriculum in film production, broadcast fusion media, and graphic design.