UConn Trustees Approve Funding for First Tech Park Building

An overview of the campus master plan showing the approximate location of the Innovation Partnership Building.

An overview of the campus master plan showing the approximate location of the Innovation Partnership Building. (Image courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

UConn’s Board of Trustees has approved budgets for two projects that will come to define the new shape of North Campus: the Innovation Partnership Building at the UConn Technology Park, and the North Hillside Road extension.

Board members voted Wednesday to approve the $162.3 million design budget for the building, which will be the first facility constructed as part of the Tech Park. That initiative will draw on the University’s years of strong industry partnerships and bring world-class research to North Campus.

“Today is the culmination of several years of planning and work to promote the important goal of scientific progress at UConn. It will be a state-of-the-art facility for advancing the competitiveness of Connecticut industry, and for the economic success of our state,” President Susan Herbst said of the vote to approve the building’s budget.

“The vision for the imminent construction of this building — and for the long term future of the UConn Tech Park — have already attracted partners, and we have many others that hope to be working with our scientists there,” she told the Board of Trustees on Wednesday.

The design of the Innovation Partnership Building is 90 percent complete, and University officials expect the project to go to bid in October with the goal of having it finished in 2017.

When it’s completed, the multi-story building will encompass about 112,000 square feet of space devoted to laboratories and specialized equipment for industry scientists and entrepreneurs who will work side-by-side with UConn researchers.

An artist's rendering of the future Innovation Partnership Building to be located at the UConn Technology Park.

An artist’s rendering of the future Innovation Partnership Building to be located at the UConn Technology Park. (Image courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

An outside consulting firm estimated that the technology park will create between 1,000 and 1,300 jobs in its first decade, with average salaries at similar tech parks around the country at roughly $75,000.

The technology park will be built on North Campus, a portion of campus bounded by Route 44, Route 195, and North Eagleville Road.

In order for that to happen, though, North Campus has to become more accessible, which is where the North Hillside Road extension project comes in.

The board’s Wednesday vote to approve the final budget for that project means that North Hillside Road will be extended by about 3,400 feet beyond where it currently ends near Charter Oak Apartments. The extension will connect it with Route 44, which will provide a new access point to campus and help relieve traffic congestion on Route 195.

That’s helpful not only for access to the Tech Park, but also to improve traffic flow in and out of campus on busy days. That means fewer cars on Hunting Lodge Road, and easier trips on and off campus for events that draw large crowds to Gampel Pavilion, the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, and other spots.

The final budget for the road extension project puts the cost at $20.3 million, of which $5.8 million comes from the federal government and the rest from the state.

Although initial work on the project began in late July, officials say the most intensive work won’t begin until the spring of 2015. They estimate the road will be open for use by November 2015, with final completion coming by September 2016.

Together, the road project and the Innovation Partnership Building will begin a new era of growth and development for an area of campus that’s largely been unused as other iniatives have transformed UConn into a world-class institution.

“UConn has achieved strong academic success by recruiting outstanding research faculty, doubling research grants, increasing technology transfer activities and increasing the size, strength, and diversity of its undergraduate and graduate student body,” Provost Mun Choi and Interim Executive Vice President for Administration John Biancamano wrote in a memo to the board about the development.