Michigan OKs Biomedical Research Facility Construction

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Michigan State University (MSU) Board of Trustees approved the construction of the Grand Rapids Research Center, a biomedical research facility, on Feb. 6. The board also approved a project budget of $85 million, even though the Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has estimated that the building will cost $88.1 million, reported MLive.

The 163,000-square-foot facility is being built to support the school’s College of Human Medicine and will replace the Van Andel Institute also located in Grand Rapids. The new facility must accommodate the 250 researchers and support staff that will need new workspace when the Van Andel Institute lease expires in 2017. The university plans to house 44 project investigator teams in the new research facility, compared to the 18 teams currently operating in the Van Andel Institute.

In order to make way for the new facility, MSU will demolish the former Grand Rapids Press building later this spring. The $3.1 million demolition costs will be paid for by bonding and donations from donors, making up for the funds not accounted for by the board approval. The university purchased the building and five downtown Grand Rapids parking lots for $12 million in 2012, according to MLive. The research building will occupy about half of the parcel. This gives the university future opportunities to engage other public-private developers about complementary projects that could further enhance MSU’s vision for medical education and commercialization of science.

Although the medical school is tax-exempt, the school requested approval for tax breaks due to possible plans to incorporate private redevelopment on the site. The Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority approved up to $29 million in property tax reimbursements to cover the cost of demolition, site preparation, infrastructure improvements, storm water management and parking ramps.

Bethesda, Md.-headquartered Clark Construction Company and locally based Rockford Construction, working in a joint venture, will manage construction of the building. The architect/engineer on the project is SmithGroupJJR, with offices in both Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich. The project is slated for completion in late 2017.