No tenants yet for Discovery Ridge Research Park building

Thursday, January 26, 2012 | 10:26 a.m. CST
An artist's rendering of the Discovery Ridge Research Park expansion that could begin early next year.

COLUMBIA — Seven months after plans were announced, no clients have stepped forward to occupy a proposed building at MU's Discovery Ridge Research Park designed to attract technology oriented businesses.

CarrBaierCrandall Real Estate Group in Kansas City revealed plans in June for the first of a three-phase project to develop what the Discovery Ridge website describes as a "dramatic 80,000-square-foot flexible lab and office space building featuring a towering, glass-encased architectural centerpiece."

At the time, representatives of the real estate company said construction could begin as early as the beginning of 2011.

Greg Williams, director of research parks for the UM System, cited the economic downturn as the reason no tenants have committed to the project.

"Deals are still very few and far between," said Williams, who works with CarrBaierCrandall to market space in the building. "We have some interest that is growing."

The building is geared toward "tech-oriented enterprise," and tenants could range from "high-intensity research and development to office space," Williams said.

Development will not move forward until at least 50 percent of the space has been leased. Rick Baier of CarrBaierCrandall said the firm will begin design and construction once that occurs.

"At this point in time, we’re negotiating with a couple of groups," Baier said. "We're focusing on companies that have a relationship with the university or would like a relationship with the university.'

Existing clients at the MU Life Science Business Incubator "could possibly become tenants in the future, as they mature to the marketplace," Williams said.

Specific building requirements could mean significant increases in the cost to develop the project. The building's cost could range from $16 million to $30 million, Baier said. As a result, the cost to rent space for potential tenants also remains speculative.

Williams said rental rates could start in the upper $20 to $40 per-square-foot range.

"Until we determine the needs of the tenant, we can't determine the exact rent rate," Baier said.

Discovery Ridge Research Park is home to ABC Labs, which does analytical work for the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, and the Research Animal Diagnostic Laboratory, which researches infectious diseases and fertility in animals. Aside from generating tax revenue for Missouri, Williams said the research park builds relationships for "tech transfers," where ideas generated in a university lab can move  into the private sector. 

The starting price for land at the research park is $100,000 per acre or $2.30 per square foot. Williams said the rate CarrBaierCrandall will pay for leasing the ground will not be determined until 50 percent of the building's space has been leased. If no tenants are found in a year to 18 months, Williams said, CarrBaierCrandall and the UM System would revisit the terms of the agreement.

Once a price for the land is determined, CarrBaierCrandal will lease the ground for 55 years, after which a second 55-year ground lease to the same real estate company would begin. Should costs to maintain the space increase due to "certain economic conditions," Williams said, the ground lease might be restructured after the first ground lease expires.

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Richard Saunders January 26, 2012 | 3:16 p.m.

With the exception of the free lunch crowd that calls itself MU, this should surprise absolutely no one.

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