Research complex could replace golf course

The U’s nine-hole golf course might be bulldozed to make space for a new technology research complex.

Although the plans for building a new research facility on campus to house the state’s Utah Science Technology and Research program are still being debated, USTAR officials discussed possible plans and costs for building on the golf course at a meeting last week.

The complex would include four buildings surrounded by playing fields and a running track, said James Bardsley, associate vice president for health sciences budget and planning.

But there’s no guarantee that the new research facilities will be built on the golf course. Officials at the meeting also discussed alternative locations for the complex, including downtown Salt Lake City, the U’s Research Park and Midvale.

The main obstacle to building on the golf course is escalating costs.

“Bringing water and other things for adding a building onto a green zone like the golf course is very expensive,” Bardsley said.

Installing roads and plumbing for the golf course site is estimated to cost more than $30 million.

The complex will house USTAR staff and other U researchers working primarily on research related to nanofabrication. The research requires very clean air and the core-imaging devices require all types of electron microscopy, Bardsley said. The complex will also hold an animal research area.

Despite costs, most members want the building on campus, so researchers and faculty are encouraged to work together, Bardsley said.

“Part of the magic of USTAR is not just the people we bring in, but it’s the work they do with the faculty we already have.” Jack Brittain, dean of the School of Business, told The Salt Lake Tribune.

The state has allocated $100 million in funding for the $130 million project costs. The U will be required to raise the rest of the money. Legislators created the USTAR initiative to encourage technology research that will create business in Utah.

When the project was first announced, the building was intended to be 260,000 square feet, but because of rising costs, the building may be only 185,000 square feet, The Tribune reported.

Bardsley said construction on the project won’t begin until at least spring 2009 and will take about two years to complete.

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