When most people think of Arizona college towns, it’s Tempe, Tucson and Flagstaff that pop to mind. But in central and downtown Phoenix, a critical mass of higher education is taking place that is making the area one of the largest hubs of higher education in the state. Almost 15,000 students will study in central or downtown Phoenix in the 2021 school year as part of a half-dozen educational institutions.
And, many of the programs offered in the central Phoenix corridor are elite, specialty programs that are meeting critical needs for Arizona’s economy and providing the skilled workforce for thousands of high-paying jobs.
“Higher education is a significant part of the transformation happening in central and downtown Phoenix,” said Chris Camacho, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “Educating the workforce needed to meet the demands of future industry is critical to the success of Greater Phoenix and contributes to our region’s value proposition as we recruit employers seeking qualified talent ready to succeed.”
Park Central in midtown Phoenix is home to two significant entries into the educational hub.
• Creighton University’s new $100 million Health Sciences Campus will open for students in fall 2021, and will provide more than 900 students with an education in medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy and pharmacy. Creighton’s medical and nursing programs are consistently ranked among the best in the country. The university has been training medical and nursing students in Phoenix for more than a decade.
• West Coast Ultrasound Institute’s School of Imaging and Nursing at Park Central opened in the summer of 2020 and offers programs for 400 students.
Other institutions include:
• Arizona State University’s (ASU) downtown campus has more than 11,000 students enrolled in elite programs such as journalism, healthcare and law.
• The University of Arizona College of Medicine facility in downtown Phoenix provides 25 different healthcare graduate programs to more than 750 enrolled students.
• The Northern Arizona University Biomedical Campus has more than 400 students on site, earning varied allied health care degrees, including athletic training, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, and occupational therapy.
• ASU will open a new facility for the Thunderbird School of Global Management in fall 2021, where the top-ranked master’s program will educate more than 325 enrolled students.
The influx particularly in healthcare education is significant. Phoenix was in need of more medical school opportunities, despite the area’s expansive healthcare infrastructure. The additional educational opportunities create partnerships between the universities, public sector and private sector to improve healthcare, research, technology and several other key industries.
Sharon Harper, Chairman and CEO of Plaza Companies, one of the co-developers of Park Central, said the influx of downtown Phoenix education creates significant synergies with other successful industries in the area, specifically healthcare and tech.
“Central Phoenix is benefitting from an influx of excellence in several key industries, and the presence of some of the finest educational institutions in the country is an important part of it,” Harper said. “It is these fine educational institutions that attract, train, and retain the talented physicians and workforce that will ultimately grow and enhance the healthcare and technology industries and services in our State.”
Plaza Companies and Tucson’s Holualoa Companies have teamed up to redevelop Park Central into a vibrant destination, which once was the city’s first official large-scale shopping mall. The companies have transitioned the expansive space from a retail center to an almost 500,000-square-foot bustling community hub ideal for playing, working, congregating and celebrating the arts.
Stan Shafer, Chief Operating Officer for Holualoa Companies, said the presence of so many high-quality institutions of learning make the entire region more attractive for business while providing significant educational opportunities for Arizona residents.
“Quality higher education institutions are a key component in successful cities,” he said. “Central Phoenix is showing itself to be an ideal location for education and is enjoying the many benefits provided by having some of the country’s finest universities and educational institutions as part of its fabric.”
For office leasing, tenants and brokers reach out to Andrew Cheney with Lee & Associates (602.954.3769) or Bill Cook with Plaza Companies (623.344.4526). For retail leasing contact Brent Mallonee with Cushman and Wakefield (602.224.4437) or Margaret Lloyd with Plaza Companies (623.344.4558).