Breaking: Yuma To Unveil Conceptual Plan For Downtown University

By Matt Harding, Yuma Sun staff writer

In an attempt to spur revitalization of a 50-plus acre area just south of Giss Parkway — in between Madison Avenue and the Union Pacific rail line — the city “developed a new vision for the site which would meet a crucial need for Yuma’s economy and help energize the downtown,” according to a press release.

The city had secured Brownfields program grants from the Environmental Protection Agency to go ahead with the redevelopment planning, led by the city’s project planner Bobette Bauermann.

Previous Brownfields grants were used to analyze certain areas on the site for contamination. About half of the environmental assessments have been completed, according to city spokesman Dave Nash. It was not immediately known what the results of those assessments were.

The open house unveiling of the conceptual plan will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in room 190 of City Hall, 1 City Plaza.

“Bringing a university to Yuma within the next 10 to 15 years would draw students from a large region,” Bauermann said. “We believe that if we can amass the land for a university, it will serve a greater purpose for Yuma.”

Much of the site’s land is currently vacant, though there are private property owners who would need to cooperate if plans move forward in the future. The city has already worked with some whose land was assessed “on a voluntary and cooperative basis.” The area — now frequently called Old Town South — once housed the Southern Pacific rail yard.

“The plan contends that the Yuma community needs a four-year university in order to cultivate home-grown talent for the jobs of the 21st century and to attract industries that need that talent,” said the press release, in part. “The campus is envisioned as an urban campus with density to complement the historic downtown.”

The city’s conceptual design shows a campus mall with academic buildings and student housing on the western side of the site, along with the extension of Main Street and a roundabout at Giss Parkway and Gila Street, in addition to parks and multi-use land.

In the press release, Mayor Doug Nicholls said, “The City of Yuma is committed in the long-term to this 10-to-15-year vision of a downtown university, and sees it as a collaborative effort among many community partners to bring this vision to reality, and not solely a City of Yuma initiative.”

It continued: “Likewise, the campus could feature one university or could involve multiple universities, providing complementary academic services to the region.”