Land Zo: Westward expansion

By Jackie Dishner | Phoenix Magazine

Arizona State University adds the Thunderbird School of Global Management to its growing real estate portfolio.

Once dominated by big-ticket sports venues and the odd office highrise, Downtown is looking more and more like a college town. Arizona State University’s massive real estate footprint is taking over – as much as 2.1 million square feet spanning more than two dozen facilities it owns or leases, enough space to fit 36.5 football fields. And it stands to get even bigger with the new ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management.

When ASU acquired Thunderbird in 2014, it also took over the international business school’s $22 million debt. At the time, the school was losing enrollment and was hemorrhaging money. The Arizona Republic reported losses of $6.4 million for 2014 and $4.1 million in 2012. ASU leadership decided the best way to reverse Thunderbird’s fortunes would be to move it to the Downtown Phoenix campus. “We thought we could connect it with private enterprise… It made sense to move [the law and journalism schools] Downtown for those reasons, and it made sense to move Thunderbird Downtown, too,” says Rick Naimark, ASU’s associate vice president for program development planning.

Currently, the school serves 250 students at the Arizona Center. The new building, which will open in time for the school’s 75th anniversary this spring, has capacity for 700. The 111,000-square-foot, five-story facility will house classrooms, an innovation center, offices, café and recruiting/job placement centers, as well as gathering places, such as a rooftop pub/patio (open to the public). The pub was a popular attraction at the Glendale campus. A high-tech auditorium will allow lectures to be transmitted from around the world.


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February 2020