CHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois is seeking ideas for future development at the Research Park.
With its 10-year lease with Fox/Atkins LLC expiring in May next year, the UI issued a request for information last week on the state’s procurement website.
“The Research Park is now seeking information via project-based proposals to accelerate development,” the request states. “This RFI is designed to explore interest in such projects, project feasibility, and proposed development terms.”
It’s specifically looking for development in two zones on the southeast end of the park, between First Street on the west, Old Fourth Street on the east, Gerty Drive to the north, and Windsor Road on the south.
Carle has a sports medicine building in that land on Windsor Road, but the land south of the swine research lab is otherwise undeveloped.
“Uses anticipated for these two zones include mixed use developments, residential development, commercial office uses, retail or research uses,” the request states.
The request for information won’t lead to a contract, but may lead to a request for proposals down the road.
The park’s developer would operate under a long-term ground lease with the university and would be “expected to plan, design, construct, finance and own the buildings on each tract.”
The request for information said it is looking for “new and creative ways to structure mutually beneficial development proposals.”
“For example, ground rent could be changed under certain conditions to a percent of gross rents above a base level,” it states. “Yet another possibility may be the consideration of deferred ground rent as equity in a project. All of the above are examples of new concepts the UIRP LLC would like to explore.”
Research Park was created around 2000, and for the first 10 years, Fox/Atkins was the developer.
In 2011, it received another contract to develop the park for 10 years, the maximum length allowed under state procurement rules.
Seventeen buildings have now been constructed at the Research Park and more than 120 companies occupy space there, including BP, Capitol One, Caterpillar, Motorola and State Farm.
In 2018, Fox/Atkins sold majority ownership of 11 buildings at the park to a Chicago-based real-estate investment firm in order to raise money for the park’s expansion.
Fox/Atkins continues to hold a stake in the buildings, and at the time, developer Peter Fox said Fox/Atkins would compete for the next development agreement.