Grand Canyon University decided to bypass Tucson and build its newest campus in Mesa.
The private Christian university expressed interest in building at El Rio Golf Course site in west Tucson.
University officials say Mesa was always one of their top locations, but they also did not want to build in any community where they might face opposition.
Councilwoman Regina Romero and some residents voiced their opposition over the El Rio Golf Course as a possible site for the university.
Residents say they want the city to keep this location as a park or green space in Tucson...
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says the city showed Grand Canyon University officials several other sites along the Interstate-10 corridor, but university officials decided Mesa was their best option at this point.
"From all indications I've gotten from them, they still like Tucson," Mayor Rothschild said. "They would still like to look at Tucson in the future and we'd certainly welcome them here."
"Keep in mind we're looking at the greater Tucson area," said Bill Jenkins, Vice President of Communications at GCU. "We're not looking strictly at the city of Tucson. Although certainly if there are sites that meet our criteria, we'll look at them."
"This was so poorly handled," said Tucson an Doug Martin. "The councilwoman Regina Romero, whom I like, came out in favor, then suddenly switched. The messaging there is really bad. Other businesses are looking at Tucson. They don't know what's going on down here. They're confused."
We reached out to councilwoman Regina Romero for a comment; she said she would be unavailable for an on-camera interview.
She said anywhere GCU decides to expand is good for all of Arizona, and she is not opposed to them building in Tucson in the future.
University officials say they will be tied up with the Mesa campus for quite some time.
They might decide to look at Tucson or Albuquerque as an option a few years down the road.
Mike Varney- President of Tucson Chamber Mike Varney was disappointed city leaders could not attract Grand Canyon University.
"The Tucson Metro Chamber is naturally disappointed that local leaders were not able to make the most of the recent interests by Grand Canyon University to establish a campus in the Tucson metro area. Based on our discussions with the leaders of GCU and visits to their current campus, we have developed a deep understanding of the positive impact GCU can make on a local community.
"Losing this opportunity should not mean that we lose the lessons learned from the unfortunate outcome of the initial negotiations. Promoting a strong local economy and increasing the workforce readiness of our area's young people are vital to our region's quality of life. Let's remain hopeful that there is a day in the future when discussions with Grand Canyon University can begin anew with fresh perspectives."
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