Innovation Campus site prep beginsFeb 4th, 2010 | By tfedderson2 | Category: Campus News, February 4, 2010, Issue
Chris Jackson made sure the check did not get lost in the mail.
On the Friday before Christmas, the vice chancellor for business and finance drove to Nebraska Title Co., and hand delivered the check to purchase the former Nebraska State Fairgrounds. On Jan. 1, the University of Nebraska became official owners of the 249-acre plot. The site is to be developed into Innovation Campus, a private/public-sector sustainable research campus that will capitalize on research growth and the expertise of UNL faculty.
“We officially took possession of the property,” said Jackson. “We have assessed the conditions of the buildings on the site. We have re-keyed the buildings. And, we’re now getting ready for the building removal phase.”
On Jan. 11, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved the removal of 14 building on the former State Fairgrounds. Jackson said the university plans to actually tear down or sell 38 buildings this spring.
|Rafters, posts and a few other items are all that remains of the Beef Pit at the former Nebraska State Fairgrounds. UNL officials are working on three RFPs with a goal to remove 38 buildings from the new Innovation Campus site. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.|
The university will issue three requests for proposals within the next two to three weeks, Jackson said. The first RFP will be for the removal of the buildings in the Heritage Village portion of the State Fairgrounds. A second RFP will be for the purchase of Morton-style buildings that can be torn down and reassembled on another site. The third RFP will be for the removal of any buildings left after bids are accepted from the first two RFPs.
“Our plan for Heritage Village is to have the buildings moved from the site and erected at other sites,” said Jackson. “We’ve received a number of calls from people interested in those buildings.”
The Heritage Village buildings include a cabin from Hudson, a train depot from Roca, a bank from Princeton, a post office from Cheney and a Burlington Northern caboose.
|UNL will issue an RFP to have the buildings removed in the Heritage Village portion of the former state fairgrounds – including the Cheney Post Office. University officials hope the buildings can be reused on a different site. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.|
Jackson said all 38 buildings should be removed by early summer.
The university is also pursuing blight designation and tax increment financing for the site. In addition, a redevelopment plan is being formulated and engineering studies will begin.
Overall, Jackson said the ownership transition went well.
She said UNL has a good working relationship with the two site tenants – which include the group that organizes Lincoln Stars hockey and the Nebraska Horsemen. Both use building space on the site, the Stars play in the Ice Box, while the Horsemen offer horse racing 364 days a year.
UNL is responsible for snow removal and has contracted out those services. To minimize costs, utilities have been shut down to non-essential buildings. And, UNL Police is providing security on the Innovation Campus site.
Jackson said, while it may not be visible, plans for Innovation Campus are progressing.
“It’s important to reiterate that this is a project that from conception was anticipated to take 20 to 25 years,” said Jackson. “We have received calls from developers and other folks interested in being a part of Innovation Campus. We are pleased with the interest thus far. That gives us all the more reason to keep the momentum going.”
– By Troy Fedderson, University Communications