The new, multi-phased development at N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus could begin to take shape soon, now that a developer has been pegged to oversee the buildout of the 32-acre site.
The university picked Wexford Science + Technology, the Maryland-based company behind the floor-to-ceiling renovation of the Chesterfield building in downtown Durham, now home to tech companies and office and lab space leased by Duke University. Wexford also is responsible for developing 1.1 million square feet in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem.
The firm specializes in partnering with universities to develop office and lab space that can be shared with businesses. Wexford Senior Director of Development Justin Parker described his firm’s work as creating “dynamic environments that foster collaboration, innovation and collisions with the private sector.” N.C. State officials say that track record, along with the company’s recent history in North Carolina, are what tipped the scales in its favor.
“Wexford conveyed a deep understanding of developing and maintaining entrepreneurial hubs built on a foundation of research, discovery and entrepreneurial activity,” stated Scott Douglass, N.C. State’s vice chancellor of finance and administration.
While Wexford and the university still need to hash out specific development plans, the next phases will be mixed-use and will likely include a mix of office and lab space that could accommodate both startups and established companies, Parker says.
Centennial Campus was founded 30 years ago as one of the first university-sponsored innovation districts, aimed at positioning university research and teaching alongside private companies that can partner with university faculty and students. The model has been copied by other universities across the globe.
N.C. State solicited pitches from developers interested in overseeing the buildout of the 32-acre property last summer. In the past, the university has partnered with Raleigh development companies Craig Davis Properties and Keystone Development, using long-term lease agreements to build, lease and manage new space at Centennial. The arrangement with Wexford will likely be similar.
Current occupants of the campus include the university’s College of Engineering and College of Textiles, as well as office and laboratory buildings for companies like ABB and LexisNexus. The property slated for new development sits at the northeast edge of the campus, near the Engineering II and Golden Leaf Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center buildings. If all goes according to plan, N.C. State could ink an agreement with Wexford by the fall and construction could begin by late 2019, according to university officials. The complete buildout would take place over 10 to 20 years.
“Centennial Campus has become an important economic driver for the region and a real differentiator for the State of North Carolina since it was first conceived by bipartisan state and university leaders more than 30 years ago,” N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson stated. “We see the next phase of development as an important step toward fulfilling their vision by creating more jobs, educating more students who are better prepared for the workforce, and launching more products, technologies and ultimately companies that are born from the collaboration of industry partners with our world-class researchers.”