UA College of Pharmacy building in line for $26M improvements project | Local news

The Arizona Board of Regents is scheduled to vote in two weeks to approve a $26-million addition and renovation of the University of Arizona’s College of Pharmacy’s Skaggs building.

“This project will provide the college with both the new and renovated space that will facilitate increased research capability, faculty recruitment, national ranking and increased revenues,” according to a board report.

The project was discussed Thursday at the Regents’ business and finance committee meeting in Tempe and will now be forwarded to the full board.

If approved, the college will add 21,000-square-feet of space on two new floors built on top of the existing Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center and 12,000-square-feet of renovated space. The Skaggs building, at East Mabel Street and North Warren Avenue, was constructed about 35 years ago.

The new space will include chemistry labs for drug discovery and research, which is a “critical need for the college to move forward,” said Pharmacy Dean Rick Schnellmann.

About 80 percent of the square footage will be lab space, 20 percent more than normal research buildings, to facilitate the high demand and adapt to the limited space available above the Skaggs building.

Schnellmann added the college can’t hire additional faculty until space allows.

While the project “will not increase directly the ability to have more students, there is the ability to improve the college’s rankings” and enhance the research opportunities for current students, said Gregg Goldman, UA’s senior vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer.

No debt will be issued to finance the construction project.

The university said $6 million will come from gifts fundraised by the dean, $10 million will be loaned from UA central funds generated from fiscal year 2017. An additional $10 million will be matched by the ALSAM Foundation, created by Allie and L.S. “Sam” Skaggs, the namesake of the building.

Sam Skaggs, who died at age 89 in 2013, was a Utah businessman who pioneered the creation of the retail superstore concept. He also was the head of Payless Drug stores and American Stores Co. He donated money to and helped raise funds for construction of the Skaggs building.

If approved by the Regents, construction will begin this spring with occupancy of the new spaces expected by summer 2019. Renovations to existing space is expected to start in the summer 2019.

The College of Pharmacy has about 500 students and 45 full-time faculty members, according to the UA.

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