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Wednesday November 15, 2000

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Facilities Management may move downtown

By Blake Smith

Arizona Daily Wildcat

ABOR to consider $6.9 million proposal on Friday

UA Facilities Management may be moving to the Tucson Electric Power building if the Arizona Board of Regents approves the proposed purchase at its meeting Friday.

The University of Arizona plans call for the department to move downtown at a cost of $6.9 million to allow for the construction of the Highland Commons District - a collection of new residence halls, a parking structure and a new campus health facility.

Acquiring the TEP building, 220 W. Sixth St., would save the university nearly $8 million in projected off-campus moving costs, because original plans had called for a new $15 million facility to be built by the University Medical Center, said Joel Valdez, UA senior vice president for business affairs.

Since the TEP building, which covers about seven acres, is outside university planning boundaries, the purchase cannot be made without board approval, said Norma Salas, ABOR assistant for public affairs.

The university plans to pay for the building with certificates of participation, which are similar to bonds and are paid out of university revenue.

If approved, Facilities Management will move more than a mile from the UA.

Salas said it is not unusual for departments to be located away from campus to allow for construction of more facilities.

"There are a lot of university offices from all three universities that rent or lease space off-campus," Salas added.

Valdez said Facilities Management already has satellite locations near UMC and Sancet Field, where the baseball team plays.

Regent Judy Gignac said that proposals for off-campus expansion need to be looked at closely.

"I always have concerns when we are buying items outside of the boundary area," Gignac said.

She added her concern centers around whether off-campus facilities will invade existing residential areas, but she has no problems with this proposal, because the TEP building is already being used for commercial purposes.

Tucson Electric expects to move all resources out of the building by the end of the year.

Some TEP employees and equipment will move to an existing facility at East Irvington Road and South Alvernon Way. The remaining employees will move to the downtown Norwest building.

Valdez said a timeline has not been organized for when Facilities Management would move into the new facility.

"It would be premature, since we haven't even gotten approval yet," Valdez added.