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Research campus buildings going up right on schedule

By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — Construction on the David H. Murdock Core Lab remains on schedule, and the steel is going up on two additional structures at the N.C. Research Campus.

Work has begun on the laboratory building for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The $49 million, 125,000-square-foot UNC facility will be four stories with a 5,000-square-foot basement.

The UNC laboratory will focus on nutrition.

The steel framework also is taking shape for the central energy plant of the campus.

Tom Sanctis, vice president of construction for Castle & Cooke, said the huge plant will be generating steam and chilled water to heat and cool the laboratory buildings on the central part of the campus.

Besides the 311,000-square-foot Core Lab, the central campus will include the UNC lab, a 100,000-square-foot N.C. State University/Dole Foods lab, a 125,000-square-foot Duke University lab and a 100,000-square-foot lab that is yet unnamed.

Construction will begin in coming months on the N.C. State and Duke facilities.

The central energy plant will be a 24,000-square-foot, $25 million facility. It is located on the railroad tracks side of the closed portion of North Main Street across from the Core Lab.

Construction on the Core Lab is expected to be finished in November.

The $35 million N.C. State University lab will focus on fruits and vegetables and finding ways, for example, to grow them bigger, make them taste better, increase their nutritional value and extend their growing seasons.

The Duke lab will try to take basic scientific discoveries at the campus and translate them into practical medical applications and solutions.

The lab buildings will be the first structures on the $1.4 billion campus being developed by Castle & Cooke in partnership with the research schools.

According to a recent agreement, UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State will lease their facilities from Castle & Cooke for 20 years, at which time the buildings become the property of the state or UNC system.

Castle & Cooke also will be building a new facility for Curb Motorsports this year.

Plans call for a $1.8 million, 20,000-square-foot structure at West F Street and Dale Earnhardt Boulevard. Curb Motorspots continues to operate out of its location at Chestnut Avenue and Dale Earnhardt Boulevard, but that spot eventually will become part of the biotech research campus.

The Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission discussed the research campus at its retreat last week.

The EDC has had a committee, headed by Rick Hudson, meeting regularly to talk about how Rowan County should be involved with the campus as it evolves. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has taken a lead in establishing biotech curriculums and workforce training in relation to the campus.

An 80,000-square-foot facility for RCCC will be built on the campus in 2009.

Besides the economic benefits from new jobs and investment, the campus could have an impact in the county’s overall access to information, Hudson said.

Part of the new infrastructure in Kannapolis will be higher broadband connections, which could be a crucial part of any information strategy that the county and its municipalities develop in the future, Hudson said.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools also has established a biotech task force and is working to create health and biotech academies at South Rowan and Carson high schools, Hudson reported.

Hudson said there’s a critical need for private sector involvement in helping with equipment and facilities and giving input on curriculum.

Overall, EDC members said they must become faces at events connected to the biotech center and build relationships with Castle & Cooke, Kannapolis officials, business leaders and the biotech industry in general in North Carolina.

It also could be important to have biotech-related events here “to put our flag in the ground,” one EDC member said.

Phil Kirk, vice president for external relations at Catawba College, said his school has established a group of about 20 people to meet on biotech-related issues, even though Catawba is not a research institution.

Kirk warned that there is “a perception among people that Rowan County is not as hot on this issue as it should be.”

“I can’t overemphasize the importance of networking and being seen as players,” Kirk said.

Lynne Scott Safrit, president of Castle & Cooke’s Charlotte region, is a 1980 Catawba College graduate and member of the school’s board of trustees.

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


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