Economy could slow Purdue park’s promise-WEB ONLY

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Purdue University will dedicate its new research park in the Ameriplex industrial complex on Indianapolis’ west side tomorrow, but the park’s bright potential runs the risk of being overshadowed by a dreary economy.

Construction finished late last year on the first phase and cornerstone of the project, a 55,000-square-foot accelerator that will house 15 to 25 startups and an expected 300 high-tech jobs. The entire park ultimately will have the capacity to house 75 businesses and 1,500 jobs at an average salary of about $54,000.

Less than a week before its ceremonial beginning, Purdue had yet to find a tenant to commit to leasing space in the park.

“We actually had hoped to have clients in the [accelerator] to announce when it opened,” Joe Hornett, senior vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation, told IBJ last week. “It’s not like there’s been a dearth of contact, but I would say that companies are moving a lot more cautiously than they were.”

Purdue officials now say the accelerator’s first tenant has been signed, and an announcement will be made at the 1 p.m. dedication.

The university is targeting life sciences, advanced manufacturing and information technology firms for the park that is expected to be a major amenity for the area’s growing biomedical economic development efforts.

The foundation paid $2.5 million in June 2007 to purchase a half-interest in 78 acres at Ameriplex. Holladay Properties, a South Bend developer of industrial parks, owns the other half.

Development of the property likely will take five to seven years to complete, Hornett said. That could include up to 10 so-called technology centers – about the same size as the accelerator – to accommodate accelerator graduates and established firms alike.

In addition, three multitenant office buildings are planned for the front of the park, along Interstate 70 near Indianapolis International Airport’s new midfield terminal.

The development also includes a 300-bed, six-story hotel with a 30,000-square-foot conference center, and about 50,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The location’s proximity to the airport, as well as to nearby Hendricks County and its cluster of logistics firms, attracted the university. Also, the park is within minutes of downtown Indianapolis.

Purdue has existing research parks in West Lafayette, Merrillville in northwest Indiana, and New Albany near Louisville. The Indianapolis location will emulate the mixed-use development in Merrillville, another partnership between Purdue and Holladay Properties.

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