By Jeff Grant for Daily News-Sun
The Peoria City Council has unanimously approved an agreement between the municipality and a small liberal-arts college based in northeastern Indiana to establish a branch campus in Arizona specializing in digital media arts curriculum.
Tuesday night’s 6-0 vote clears the way for Huntington University officials to renovate partially constructed structures within the Arrowhead Innovation Campus at 8700 W. Kelton Lane. The deal comes with a provision allowing Huntington to expand onto vacant land next door as its enrollment increases.
The move gives Peoria its second institute of higher learning, following Trine University, roughly 2.5 miles away on 83rd Avenue.
Peoria officials have said the new campus will fit in nicely with the city’s mission of broadening economic opportunities.
The one-story structures are part of a complex begun in the mid-2000s that was halted by the recession later that decade. Its open sides, high ceilings and lack of interior walls make it ideal for the university to finish according to its needs.
Property owner Charles Klar had previously estimated the cost to the university to fill in the building shells, which compose 25KSF, would be about $15M.
The school will occupy 15KSF of space initially, with the goal of expanding into the remaining area within five years. He projected a soft opening in spring 2016 with as few as 50-70 students but by 2021, enrollment would be up to 500 students.
The campus will open with 20 full-time employees and eventually employ a number of adjunct professors.
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