Spokane Journal of Business

UI sets big plans for park

Post Falls research campus could grow to 25 buildings, 1 million square feet of space

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POST FALLSFrom a spare Jacklin Land Co. office inside the newest building at the Riverbend Commerce Park here, Doug McQueen is busy drafting big plans for the University of Idahos research park project, which is slated for property next to Riverbend.

Eventually, the 100-acre research park is expected to have 1 million square feet of floor space in about 25 buildings, says McQueen, the parks director. He anticipates that some 25 large companies and many more smaller ones will have a presence in the park, with some of the larger ones in buildings along the parks prime Spokane River frontage.

The park, which will concentrate on attracting high-tech industry, is expected to feature a college campus-like design that promotes contact between the companies and the university departments that will open offices there, McQueen says. Well actually turn down tenants if they dont have R & D and interaction with the university, he says.

Of course, completion of the park is many years down the roadMcQueen wont speculate on exactly how manybut progress is being made toward meeting the parks goals.

The park already has two small companies on board, work is nearly completed on 7,500 square feet of temporary quarters in the new Riverbend building, and work on a master plan is under way, McQueen says. Construction is expected to begin later this year on the first building in the UI park, and promotion of the research capabilities of the university can provide to Inland Northwest businesses has started, he says. On a recent day, McQueen had just returned from a visit to Key Tronic Corp., the Spokane-based computer keyboard manufacturer.

McQueen says he asks people to think of the park as a unique piece of economic development. Were after quality and long-term investment, not speed.Gift worth $3.5 millionThe Moscow, Idaho-based University of Idaho got permission from the Idaho State Board of Education in mid-1997 to proceed with plans for a research park in Post Falls. Since then, Jacklin Land has given the school 28 acres, worth approximately $3.5 million, for the park.

The 28 acres is located at the south end of the UI research park site, closest to the Spokane River. Jacklin Land will market the remaining 72 acres in the park to companies and will donate one acre of land in the park site to the school for each three acres of land it sells there.

The park is located south and east of the 300-acre Riverbend Commerce Park, which has 14 buildings with a total of nearly 516,000 square feet of space.

The UI also has hired McQueen. He formerly was director of the Association of University Related Research Parks, in Arizona, and earlier developed a research park for Arizona State University.

The first building in the UI research park will have university and business tenants and will be built on Jacklin property, rather than on the acreage that was donated to the school, McQueen says. He says he wants to save the prime donated area for high-profile research park tenants, rather than using any of it for the UIs first building.

That building is expected to have between 30,000 and 40,000 square feet of floor space and to take about six months to build.

Its expected to cost between $1.5 million and $3.5 million, depending on the quality of the building thats constructed. Architects West PA, of Coeur dAlene, will design the structure, McQueen says, adding that he hopes to garner grants and gifts to pay for it.

Before the building gets under way, however, the master plan for the park must be completed, he says. The plan is being done by Landmark Land Planning & Landscape Architecture, of Coeur dAlene, and should be finished in about two months. The university received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay for the master plan, to promote the park to students and businesses, and to cover other items, he says.

In the meantime, work is continuing on the 7,500-square-foot space in the newest Riverbend Commerce Park building that will serve as home for the park until its first building is ready. The space should be ready to occupy in mid-April, says McQueen, who for now is working in another office in the building.

A number of university programs are expected to have a presence in the temporary space, including, among others, engineering, business, art and architecture, and research centers in microelectronics, water resources, materials and advanced processes, and molecular, agricultural, and genetic engineering. A couple of junior-level engineering classes are expected to be offered there this coming fall.

The two business tenants that already have agreed to come into the park also will open branch offices in that space, McQueen says, adding Im happy to have these two tenants since the focus thus far has been on getting the research park started rather than on recruiting tenants.

One of the signed tenants is Ednetics, a Moscow company that employs three people; it resells computer hardware and provides computer consulting primarily to education users.

The other signed tenant is LCF Enterprises, a Los Angeles-based company that was recruited by Jobs Plus, of Coeur dAlene. LCF makes custom power amplifiers primarily for the airline industry, military uses, and NASA. The company, which has 15 employees, plans to develop business in a new direction in Post Falls, and the companys president personally plans to move here, although the company will keep its Los Angeles operation, McQueen says. LCF is expected to employ 10 people in Post Falls within a year, he says.

McQueen contends that once the park is up and running, it should be self-sufficient. It will receive income from rent that it will charge both to the university departments and to business tenants, he says. It also will sell land to businesses, charge fees for some services, and seek grant funding, he says.

The park wont be a business incubator, but instead will help established companies with research that could lead to added growth, McQueen says. Were interested in the cutting-edge stuff, he says.

  • Marlene Mehlhaff

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