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STAR Campus second phase nearly finished


By Christi MilliganSTAR-Campus-

Construction of Phase II at the University of Delaware’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus is almost finished and fully leased, according to officials. And Phase III could include everything from a 10-story tower and retail space to related expansion of the anchoring businesses that haven’t even moved in yet.

It’s all part of the vision for the 272-acre site of the old Chrysler building, with strategy and flexibility equally vital as development of the site moves forward, according to Ernie Delle Donne of Delle Donne & Associates.

Delle Donne owns 18.5 acres of the campus, and is leasing space for Phase II and III.

The developer was able to secure SevOne, the successful performance management software company started by two UD graduates, which will move its Delaware office into 50,000 square feet of new digs at the campus.

The company is expected to expand even further into additional space of the planned 10-story tower. But Delle Donne said phase III plans remain fluid.

“You have the science end that has medical parts of this that want to expand, the wetlab is another anchor and then you have the tech with SevOne,” said Delle Donne. “It’s analogous to a mall with three major anchors, all three generating expansions. Phase III could be all three simultaneously.”

Originally envisioned to include just the 10-foot tower, the next phase could also mean expansion of other parts of the campus first in an effort to meet the demand for retail space like restaurants and related businesses for the campus. Delle Donne noted the need for amenities, in particular.

Some of those may include fitness classes, and restaurants. He is currently exploring the possibility of a multi-court facility to accommodate the Delaware Special Olympics, the organization for which his daughter, Elena, is global ambassador.

“The STAR campus has the ability to be so accommodating to anything,” he said. “I’ve talked to everyone from the Special Olympics to a major defense contractor to surgeons for surgery center.”

Indeed, the research, education and business hub is building clout, drawing commitment by SevOne, which has offices in Philadelphia, Pike Creek and Boston. Delle Donne said it’s the first time in his career that the buildings were spoken for before a certificate of occupancy was even issued.

“The first and second phases took off so quickly,” he said. “Never in my life have I felt like things got out ahead of me. It speaks volumes for the vision that University of Delaware staff had.”

Delaware Technology Park (DTP), Glasgow Medical Center and Independence Prosthetics – Orthotics, Inc. will also locate at the campus, eager to be part of the research, education and business hub, according to Mike Smith, the university’s director of strategic initiatives and partnerships.

Della Donne said interest from others in moving to the campus is a sign of the synergy between the college, area businesses, and the Delaware workforce that built it.

“This entire project was built by Delawareans,” he told state Chamber of Commerce members who gathered at the campus last month for the announcement and a tour of the health-sciences facilities, a conglomeration of research, rehab and teaching offices that is the cornerstone of the campus.

Smith said DTP would utilize more than 10,000 square feet of space for multiple wet labs. Already, the nonprofit science-and-tech incubator is home to 50 different companies at its nearby location at Innovation Way, and it has created over 16,000 jobs since its inception, according to founder and president Mike Bowman.

“The space will be designed for early-stage companies that we know are going to grow,” said Bowman, who hopes to create at least 10 separate labs.

Both DTP and SevOne were approved for strategic funding by the state in January to outfit their new spaces at the campus. SevOne was named to Forbes’ 2015 list of “America’s Most Promising Companies.” The company’s expansion into the tower offices could mean the addition of up to 300 new jobs, according to Smith.

Glasgow Medical Center, which is also expanding, will occupy roughly 15,000 square feet, while Independence Prosthetics – Orthotics will utilize about 4,000 square feet. Smith said he’s hoping to rent the remaining 2,500 square feet to add a retail or amenity business.

“As the demand increases and the number of employees occupying the site goes up, there are going to be restaurants and, eventually, retail space,” said Smith, who also said the campus strives for a balanced partnership between academia, business and the community.

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