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Looking ahead — NCRC in 2007

By Mark Wineka

Kannapolis Citizen

Jump in your time machine and move ahead to January 2008.

By then, the landscape of the N.C. Research Campus will have changed significantly because of the things happening in 2007.

Lynne Scott Safrit, president of Castle & Cooke, says the coming 12 months will be an exciting time when the campus “should really start to show progress” after a 2006 devoted mostly to demolition, clearing and grading.

Castle & Cooke, David H. Murdock’s development company, is guiding the construction, business and residential development connected to the biotech center.

People will begin to see Murdock’s vision for the research campus take physical shape, Safrit says of the coming year.

Construction of the David H. Murdock Core Lab, which rose from the ground in 2006, continues on schedule and will be finished this year.

While the facility will not be fully functional by the start of 2008, there will be “a lot of excitement around that building” in coming months, Safrit says.

The Core Lab will house a contract manufacturing biogenic facility and tenants. By the fall, Safrit says, a 950 MHz actively shielded NMR — the world’s most powerful superconducting magnet — will be installed in the Core Lab.

It’s a two-story, 8-ton machine meant to enhance research areas such as drug development and nutrition and is part of $30 million in equipment to be installed by the campus’ non-profit institute.

The first biotech jobs generated by the research campus will be working out of the Core Lab.

Faculty from N.C. State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will use temporary space in 2007 as they shape their future programming and hire new people, according to Safrit.

Construction will begin on both the N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill labs in 2007. From a technical standpoint, ground already has been broken for those facilities, Safrit says, but an official groundbreaking could happen as early as this month, depending on schedules.

Safrit doesn’t expect the N.C. State and UNC labs to be completely finished by the end of the year, but they will be close, she predicts.

Overall, Castle & Cooke will have solidified discussions with several more biotech research companies and have space available for them by the end of the year, Safrit adds.

A Duke University lab also is scheduled for construction in 2007.

“We would like to have as many buildings under way as possible,” Safrit says. “It’s hard to do that when you’re cleaning up and grading. We would all like to see things moving faster, especially Mr. Murdock.”

But Safrit emphasizes that Castle & Cooke is pleased with how far things have come since Murdock announced the plans for the research campus in September 2005.

Here are the various projects scheduled for 2007 and some of the numbers behind them:

* The completion of the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory. The 311,000-square-foot centerpiece structure of the biotech research campus has a projected construction cost of $110 million.

* The start of the N.C. State University laboratory, an Institute for Advanced Fruit and Vegetable Science. The 100,000-square-foot facility has a projected construction cost of $35 million.

* The start of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill laboratory, an Institute for Excellence in Nutrition. The 125,000-square-foot building has a projected construction cost of $49 million.

* The start of a 125,000-square-foot Duke University laboratory, also at a cost of $49 million.

* Construction of greenhouses for N.C. State University. The greenhouses, to be constructed at a former Pillowtex waste treatment plant off Glenn Avenue, will cover 84,400 square feet at an estimated cost of $16 million.

* The start of an unnamed lab building, adjacent to the Duke lab. It will be a 100,000-square-foot facility costing $35 million to build.

* The construction of two parking decks: A UNC parking deck of 415,792 square feet providing 1,055 spaces; and a Duke University parking deck of 567,127 square feet, providing 1,481 parking spaces. The parking decks have a projected value of $15.8 million and $22.2 million, respectively.

* A new 20,000-square-foot facility for Curb Motorsports, whose present location at Chestnut Avenue and Dale Earnhardt Boulevard will become part of the campus. Castle & Cooke will build a new $1.8 million headquarters for Curb Motorsports at another Dale Earnhardt Boulevard location.

* A 24,000-square-foot central energy plant worth $25 million and a 15,000-square-foot storage building valued at $2.2 million.

The list does not include many of the infrastructure improvements the city of Kannapolis hopes to tackle beginning this year.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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