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Friday, 06 February 2015 12:10

MSU approves $88.1 million for research facility at former Grand Rapids Press site

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MSU approves $88.1 million for research facility at former Grand Rapids Press site Courtesy rendering

Clark Construction-Rockford Construction joint venture to oversee project

EAST LANSING — Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees today approved construction of the long-awaited Biomedical Research Center facility as part of the College of Human Medicine in downtown Grand Rapids.

The nearly $88.1 million capital project has been in the works for two years for property the university purchased from the Grand Rapids Press. MSU officials hope the development will have a transformative impact for the region’s medical and scientific community.

“One of the things that is really exciting about it is that we believe it will be a gateway to the Medical Mile right along Michigan (Street), which will give us a prominence on the corner,” said Vennie Gore, MSU’s vice president for auxiliary enterprises.

The combined budget includes $3 million for razing the existing building on the site, the former Grand Rapids Press facility located at the northeast corner of Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue. The Board of Trustees voted to allow demolition of the building in December 2014, as MiBiz reported at the time.

Funding for the $85.1 million, four-story building will come largely from private donors, as well as the school’s general fund and tax-exempt financing with accumulated debt being paid from the general fund and other sources.

“In this case, this is something we need to do and we are leveraging donor support as much as possible to be able to have the connections we need for the university,” MSU President Lou Anna Simon said during the board meeting.

Detroit-based SmithGroupJJR is serving as the project’s architect and engineer. Construction management will be handled by a joint venture of Lansing-based Clark Construction Co. and Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction Co. Inc.

The 160,000-square-foot research center building will not utilize the entire property, thereby leaving space for additional development. The total site is approximately 4.3 acres and the future research center will occupy about half of the space.

The university plans to engage the development community in Grand Rapids in late spring to find out what kind of project could be housed on the site, Gore said.

Demolition of the former Press building could begin as soon as next month, Gore told reporters after the board voted to approve the facility. Initial construction is expected to begin this June.

MSU expects to have the research center construction complete by June 2017, the same time that the university’s existing lease for research space at the Van Andel Institute expires. The new facility is expected to allow MSU to continue to expand research in areas such as Parkinson’s disease, women’s reproductive health and breast cancer.

Gore told MiBiz that bolstering research activity is part of the university’s goal of becoming a top 50 university in the world in those areas.

The state-of-art, open laboratory facility will allow for increased collaboration between researchers working there, as well as help ramp up work with the community’s existing scientific and medical practitioners, Gore said.

“Rather than having walls around the researchers, it’s an open lab,” Gore said. “That’s where the beauty of science happens. … We are very excited.”

Kris Larson, the president and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., shared Gore’s enthusiasm. 

“The expanded presence of a top-tier research institution in our downtown will yield decades of prosperity, scores of high-paying research jobs and oodles of spinoff economic activity for the downtown,” Larson said in an email to MiBiz. “We look forward to celebrating this investment as an expansion of the medical mile and an important bridge between several downtown neighborhoods.”

Read 6417 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 11:13

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