The University of Arizona will bring a new master’s nursing program next fall to Gilbert’s University Building and rent more space in the building to accommodate it.

Town Council unanimously approved a new lease agreement with UA as part of the consent agenda at its meeting Dec. 14 with a five-year term and an option for five more years thereafter.

Gilbert Economic Development Director Dan Henderson said the expansion is an exciting time for Gilbert and credited council’s direction and the work of Economic Development Deputy Director Jennifer Graves, who heads the town’s higher education initiative, for the growth of higher education in town.

The new program and lease means the fourth floor of the four-story building at 92 W. Vaughn Ave., Gilbert, will be occupied by a tenant for the first time. UA’s bachelor of science in nursing-integrative health program, or BSN-IH, is on the building’s third floor and the Park University Gilbert campus programs on the lower floors.

Graves said the town will spend $2.5 million to bring the fourth floor up to rentable condition and another $2 million for tenant-requested improvements, including furniture and equipment for its programs. UA will reimburse the town for the tenant improvement over the life of the lease.

The university otherwise will pay $33 per square foot the first year in rent, an amount that will increase 1% for each of the five years, Graves said.

The program UA is bringing is a master of science for entry to the profession of nursing, or MEPN. It is directed toward graduates with other degrees who wish to become nurses. The program currently is housed in downtown Phoenix.

When it launches next fall, UA expects to enroll cohorts of 96 students each, Henderson said. Between the two programs, UA expects to eventually enroll 400 students, and Henderson said overall enrollment between the two universities in the Gilbert building should soon reach 800 students.