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Peoria Unified Takes Ownership of Challenger Space Center Land & Building


Link to Video Release found here:

PEORIA, ARIZ. – The Peoria Unified School District has entered into a land swap agreement to take ownership of the land and building currently housing the Challenger Space Center, located adjacent to Sunrise Mountain High School on 83rd Avenue and Lake Pleasant in Peoria, Ariz.

The agreement is zero-cost to the district or taxpayers as Peoria Unified will exchange two undeveloped parcels of land that will not be needed for school sites: one located at 75th Avenue and Acoma Drive in Peoria and another at 89th Avenue and Emil Rovey Parkway in Glendale.

These assets combined appraise at $4.022M. The Challenger Space Center has been appraised at $4.4M. An additional $251,839 will also be provided to the district to put towards closing costs, basic remodeling and upgrades. The transaction is expected to close on Oct. 1, 2017 and the district plans to unveil a timeline for facility usage once an initial assessment of the property is complete.

The district plans to unveil a proposed use for the new facility late Aug. 2017. The proposal will likely include innovative programming with a STEM focus. 

“We want to remain competitive in an environment where we know parents have a myriad of educational options,” said Peoria Unified Superintendent, Dr. Darwin Stiffler. “The logical choice was to exchange two dormant assets for a space that would allow us to expand upon our personalized learning model and meet additional students’ needs. While we are still working through the details of the future program offerings, we are confident that we can identify a cost-effective way to put it to solid use.”

At approximately 25,000 sq. ft., the site is too small to meet the widespread need for additional classroom space in the northwest region of the district. Peoria Unified has traditionally built comprehensive K-8 schools at approximately 100,000 sq. ft. and high schools at approximately 250,000 sq. ft. Due to the unique structure of the Challenger Space Center, it is not designed for traditional classroom use. The district will identify ways to provide innovative programming that maximizes the available resources.

Peoria Unified, located in the Northwest Valley, serves more than 36,000 students in 34 elementary schools, seven high schools and one non-traditional high school. With ongoing open enrollment and alternative educational opportunities, the district boasts a 93 percent high school graduation rate. It is one of the largest unified school districts in Arizona and prides itself on excelling schools, award-winning teachers, high test scores, specialized signature programs and championship sports programs. The Vision of the Peoria Unified School District is “Every student, every day, prepared to shape tomorrow.” For more information, visit the district’s website at