The Arizona Bioscience Park, a long-planned project being developed by the University of Arizona, is the very definition of “shovel-ready.” Thanks to a $4.7 million federal stimulus grant announced August 24, infrastructure improvements will begin before the year’s end.
The grant, which is being awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It will pay for roads, water systems, utilities, and perimeter landscaping–essential precursors to building out the Bio Park.
“This is a big step forward in developing a core piece of the Tucson metro area,” said Bruce Wright, UA’s associate vice president for economic development, in the Arizona Daily Star. “The park really is intended to be something of value not only for the university but for the entire community.”
Wright said in the Daily Star that before the year’s end, a contractor should be selected, and work on the site should begin.
Once that preparatory work is completed, likely by the end of 2010, UA will be able to go forward with the master land use plan for the 54-acre parcel, approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in June. Ultimately, the Bio Park will feature research and office space for startup and existing bioscience firms, a high school specializing in bioscience education, housing, and a hotel and conference center.
“The Arizona Bioscience Park will provide the Tucson region with a comprehensive training and research facility that will work to boost workforce training, research and development opportunities, higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs, and private sector investment in the bioscience sector,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, in an announcement of the grant.
Wright has described the Bio Park as providing a comprehensive set of tools to help young bioscience companies get off the ground. Among its features will be the specialized research and lab facilities that bio firms often require, but it will not feature the premium lease rates that so quickly drain startups’ financial resources. Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap has identified below-market leases for new firms as a critical ingredient in strengthening the state’s bioscience sector.
The Bio Park is one component of a significantly larger mixed-use project known as “The Bridges.” In all, The Bridges will cover more than 350 acres adjacent to Interstate 10 and the Kino Parkway on Tucson’s South Side, making it the largest infill project in the city’s history. The development plan for The Bridges includes commercial and retail property, and as many as 1,000 residential units.
For more information:
“UA Bioscience Park gets $4.7M,” Arizona Daily Star, 08/25/2009
“Stimulus Grant Aiding Arizona Bioscience Park,” UA news release, 08/24/2009