UA seeks tenants for research facility

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

What is the former IBM facility on South Rita Road being used for?

Pima County's new four-year campus won't call it home, at least not yet, and the facility has not yet transformed into the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park.

The Arizona Board of Regents purchased the facility for the dual purpose of housing the research park and the new college, which will be overseen by the University of Arizona for an undetermined period of time before becoming independent.

The 10 members of the new college planning staff have postponed moving to the facility for about 18 months, which they will spend at a smaller, cheaper location on South Stone Avenue. Classes are scheduled to begin at the campus in the Fall 1996 semester.

Marshall Worden, science and technology park project director, said no UA researchers currently occupy the facility which, in many years, will be a large commercial and university research park. But for now, only IBM, Hughes Aircraft and Marriott occupy the 2 million square-foot facility located on 1,345 acres, more than twice the size of all land occupied by the UA. The UA obtained the building Jan. 1.

A few UA research projects that are joint ventures with private companies are currently being considered as possible occupants of the facility, said Bruce Wright, in the office of Economic Development and Community Affairs. Other decisions about what projects to transfer to the facility will require more time and thought to decide which projects would be best suited by that type of environment, he said.

Worden said there is no set timeline for when the facility will transform into a massive research park comprised of university, private and joint private-university research projects that will expand throughout existing structures and possibly across the 1,000 acres of vacant land.

The UA is currently in the process of finding commercial users to rent one of the two vacant 115,000 square-foot buildings at the location, he said.

But only acceptable tenants, involved in high-technology research and development will be able to participate in the research park, Worden said.

Wright said the research park is an area defined by state law that allows corporations that locate in the area to receive tax benefits.

The "spectacular facilities" and mid

"high technology equipment" at the location will be a benefit to both the university and private companies who locate there, Wright said. Companies will also gain the benefit of working with faculty members who have expertise in the area and the university will benefit from being able to split the cost of the research projects with the companies, he said.

But Worden said the biggest benefit is "the synergisms of working in a research-intensive environment" and being able to cooperate in research between the private sector and the university.

The other vacant building at the site will be reserved until a final decision has been made about where the new campus will be located, Worden said.

When the campus opens in 1996, classes will be held either at the Rita Road location or at an unspecified downtown location as proposed by Mayor George Miller as part of a downtown rejuvenation project.

Worden and Wright are studying how to best use the 1,000 acres of vacant land, a process that includes observing other successful university research parks and hiring outside consultants.

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