Developers unveil Innovation Campus building plans

jbrehm2, June 8, 2011 | View original publication

Developers unveil Innovation Campus building plans

Leveraged by the $25 million investment by the Nebraska Legislature, the Nebraska Innovation Campus Corp. Board of Directors today announced that the first phase of development at Nebraska Innovation Campus would include four new or renovated buildings representing an estimated $80 million in public and private investments.

Included in the first phase is a nearly 170,000-square-foot central commons building that nearly doubles the size of the original 4-H Building. State funds of $10 million will renovate the building's east half, while the Woodbury Corp., managing partner of investors Nebraska Nova LLC, will renovate the west half and also will build a companion building next to the 4-H Building.

Gov. Dave Heineman and the legislature also provided $15 million to be matched by private philanthropy for a "food, fuel and water" research facility. When that match is completed, the university will then build a building at $30 million or more. Woodbury also announced that if the university is successful in raising at least the $15 million required for the match, they would in turn build an equal-sized life science building.

"The result is four significant buildings that create the critical mass for the attraction of private-sector companies," University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman said.

The new companion building connected to the 4-H Building adds approximately 100,000 square feet to the existing structure. Much of the existing 4-H Building will be renovated under this plan. Set to be completed by April 2013, the new building and the renovated 4-H Building will serve as the anchor or central commons structure for Nebraska Innovation Campus, providing space for university research, incubator businesses or translational research, convenience or retail, tenant offices and labs.

The schematic drawings and preliminary artist renderings of the plan for the 4-H Building renovation and companion building were shown today for the first time at a media event. The announcement sets in motion the Phase I construction plan that includes site work and infrastructure development that is scheduled for completion in 2012.

"The state investment is doing what it was intended," Perlman said. "It is jump-starting Innovation Campus and leveraging state funds to produce private sector investments. We are off to a good start because the governor and the legislature had confidence in this vision for Nebraska's future."

The Nebraska Legislature on May 26 passed its two-year budget focusing on its top priorities: education and jobs, including a $25 million investment in the University of Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Nebraska Innovation Campus will be a premier private/public-sector sustainable research campus that capitalizes on research growth and expertise of UNL faculty to strengthen the economic growth potential of the state and the university. Located on 232 acres north of City Campus at the site of the former State Fair Park, it has been in the planning and predevelopment stages after coming into university possession Jan. 1, 2010.

"This is one of the most ambitious and most significant projects on the horizon for Nebraska," Gov. Heineman said. "We want to grow and attract new, technology-focused companies to our state. Innovation Campus represents an important opportunity for the University of Nebraska to leverage its research talent to fuel new economic growth. Accelerating the development of Innovation Campus is a critical part of our vision for Nebraska's future."

University consultants hired in 2009 estimated the economic impact of Nebraska Innovation Campus could bring annual new payroll to the local and state economy of $267 million, including $149 million in direct annual payroll and $118 million in indirect payroll from new spin-off jobs. Planners are using a 25-year phased development approach.

"From the very beginning, the ambitious plans for Innovation Campus have required a partnership, and that is clearly evident today," James B. Milliken, president of the University of Nebraska, said. "The commitment of the governor and legislature to the success of Innovation Campus — especially in difficult times — provides the impetus for initial development that will occur more quickly and be more ambitious than otherwise possible."

"Because of the leadership and cooperation of the governor and the legislature and the university, we are able today to move forward more quickly and to develop more space than we first thought possible," said Zach Wiegert, manager of Nebraska Nova LLC. The development corporation has had interest from future tenants.

For more information about Nebraska Innovation Campus and to view the most up-to-date versions of the plans, go to