The Town of Oro Valley will soon be home to a satellite location of the Children’s Museum Tucson.
Anticipated to open in spring of 2015, the new facility is still in the preliminary stages, but talks have come a long way since the idea was born in the early part of 2013. It was then, during a tour of the Children’s Museum Tucson headquarters downtown, that Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath inquired about the possibility of creating a satellite branch within the town.
“It was a direct way to bring more arts and culture into Oro Valley, and therefore bring more tourism into Oro Valley,” said Hiremath. “Over the past few years, citizens have voiced that they want more and more recreational opportunities like this, so it seemed like a natural fit. When we learned they were thinking of expanding, we said why not expand into Oro Valley?”
In addition to providing citizens with additional educational and recreational opportunities, the satellite location will bring additional sales tax revenue to the town, which is of particular importance given that Oro Valley does not implement a property tax.
“Sales tax in and of itself is dicey because it’s cyclical, but like bringing Tohono Chul Park into the town, this satellite location will help stabilize that as much as possible,” he said.
While an exact location has not yet been pinpointed, Michael Luria, executive director of the Children’s Museum, said he is seeking out a 3,000-square-foot space, adding that larger is an option, but smaller is unlikely.
The project is projected to cost $600,000. Of that, $200,000 will come from the Town of Oro Valley, $200,000 will come from the Children’s Museum Tucson reserves, and another $200,000 will need to be raised.
The satellite location will focus primarily on early learning for children five years or younger, and their families. Three distinct areas within the new location are being considered, to include a general exhibit similar to Wee World Downtown that is age and developmentally appropriate for children under five, an exhibit that focuses on health and wellness, and an arts and crafts studio.
“The fastest growing demographic that the museum serves is families with children five and under,” said Luria. “Research shows that this time frame is the most critical in a child’s life for healthy development.”
Luria added that when considering the way young children learn, the Oro Valley location makes sense.
“Children in this age range tend to have a more limited attention span, which makes a 30-minute drive each way from Oro Valley into downtown – for a visit that is likely only 45 minutes to an hour – not as desirable for parents on a regular basis.”
By opening a satellite location, the hope is also to help keep learning close to home for children not only in Oro Valley, but neighboring communities like northwest Tucson, Marana, and Catalina.