UArizona Breaks Ground On 54-Acre Bioscience Park
The University of Arizona broke ground on the Bioscience Park, or Bio Park, a world-class development expected to generate stable high-paying jobs, attract capital investment for emerging industries and sustain long-term economic growth for greater Tucson and Arizona.
The 54-acre Bio Park at Kino Parkway and 36th Street will include up to 2.4 million square feet in laboratory and office space, a science and technical high school affiliated with Tucson Unified School District, hotel and conference center and University housing.
Approximately 25 percent of the Bio Park will remain open space and features courtyards and a north-south greenbelt to encourage interaction and a sense of community among employees, residents and visitors.
The Bio Park’s phase one development is funded by a $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known as ARRA.
The stimulus grant is one of the largest awarded by the EDA for a research park and among the largest ARRA grants awarded to the UA. The federal funds support the development of essential infrastructure including roads, water systems, utilities and perimeter landscaping.
The “Destination Discovery” groundbreaking event was attended by approximately 200 guests, including elected officials, scientists, venture capitalists, neighborhood representatives and city and University administrators. UA President Robert N. Shelton, Regent Fred Boice, former Tucson City Council Member Steve Leal and Bruce Wright, associate vice president for university research parks, spoke about how the Bio Park will contribute to sustainable economic growth and community development.
“The new Bio Park complex will enhance the UA’s competitive edge in bioscience research and complements the efforts of southern Arizona’s existing bioscience and biotechnology facilities,” said UA President Robert N. Shelton.
“The Bio Park will be an important and integral part of the University,” said Leslie Tolbert, UA vice president for research, graduate studies and economic development and co-chair of the Bioscience Leadership Council of Southern Arizona. “It will allow the University to link its research efforts to technology commercialization and regional economic development.”
The UA announced at the event that Lincoln Property Company, or LPC, will be the development partner for the Bio Park.
In the upcoming months, the UA Office of University Research Parks and LPC will develop the Bio Park’s design and development guidelines and implement a national marketing program to begin attracting and recruiting technology and bioscience tenants to the Park.
Construction for tenant space could begin quickly on the site and is not dependent on completion of the infrastructure improvements.
The Bio Park is where scientific discovery connects with entrepreneurial business so research developments can advance to the marketplace. “This park will be a global destination for innovation and collaboration,” said Bruce Wright, UA associate vice president for university research parks. “Carefully planned and well conceived, the complex will attract the best and brightest minds in bioscience to southern Arizona.” A master land use plan for the park was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in June of this year.
The Bio Park is designed to provide state-of-the-art commercial bioscience facilities in Tucson and southern Arizona, Wright said. “The design includes all the components needed to support the bioscience industry and features elements and best practices from existing science and technology parks. The complex includes wet labs, clean rooms, culture labs and equipment rooms that reduce start-up costs for emerging companies and are conducive to research and commercialization. We also will have a full range of educational facilities to support workforce training.”
“We are actively looking for technology companies who will enhance the vision and help make this one of the most successful bioscience parks in the world,” said Molly Gilbert, project manager for the park.
Bioscience is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. “In Arizona, the biosciences industry is still in its early stages but growing three times faster than the national average,” Wright said. “For a state that has long depended on cyclical industries that produce extreme periods of economic bust and boom, the potential return on investment in biosciences is significant, creating huge opportunities for increased private investment, increased federal funding and high-paying, stable jobs.”
The Tucson metropolitan area is home to more than 100 bioscience companies and organizations.
The Bio Park campus is part of a larger 350-acre planned community called The Bridges, which will include residential housing units as well as retail establishments. This is one of the city’s largest infill projects and the first major urban-core development to mix homes, stores and employment centers in a single site. Planners envision a vibrant urban center featuring grocery stores, restaurants, cafés and retail shops – amenities currently not available in the area.
The Bio Park has been in development for the past 8 years.
“Early on we wanted to connect the Bio Park to the surrounding neighborhoods and make the residents an integral part of the project,” said Gilbert. “We knew that input from all the stakeholders – developers, investors, private and public partners and the community – was critical for this to be a success.”
“The Bio Park marks new investment in our community. The Vistas and Pueblo Gardens neighborhoods were built back in the 1940s so that Air Force personnel had a convenient place to live near the base,” said local resident Cindy Ayala. “The Bio Park is a welcome addition to this area. We are all looking forward to greater educational and employment opportunities.”
“The new Bio Park will help the UA, Tucson and Arizona play a larger role in that viable economic future,” Wright said.
The potential economic impact of the Bio Park is reflected in the performance of the UA Science and Technology Park at Rita Road and Interstate 10. In January, the UA released a study of the economic impact of its Tech Park, now in its 15th year. Today that park is home to 41 technology companies and business organizations and employs more than 7,000 employees earning an average of $71,000 annually – which is nearly twice the annual average wage in Pima County.
The Tech Park contributes annually nearly $2.5 billion to the Pima County economy.
The UA is a known leader in the high-tech fields of optical sciences, astronomy, astrophysics, planetary sciences, hydrology, earth sciences, medicine, biosciences and engineering.
Source : University Of Arizona