UD’s STAR Campus’ Mixed-use Opportunities Continue To Develop

The Lighting Practice is teaming with Tevebaugh Associates as the Lighting Designers for The University of Delaware’s STAR Campus (Science, Technology, and Advanced Research).  The new campus will provide additional space for the College of Health Sciences as well as the community.  The STAR Campus will include University of Delaware facilities as well as new companies.

U. of Delaware expanding with private help

By Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer

What an opportunity: When the University of Delaware took over a shuttered Chrysler plant in 2008, it gained enough space to double its academic campus in Newark, Del.

Dreamers dusted off old plans and projected them onto the flattened 272-acre site, which sprawls amid I-95, the Northeast Corridor railroad, and UD’s brick heart. Some thought: A law school! Maybe a medical school! Massive growth!

But the university, though privately run, is also state-supported. The $24.5 million purchase went through in a howling recession, amid plant closings and bank layoffs. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell’s priorities ran more toward propping up blue-collar industries and trying to attract health and energy jobs than to brick-and-mortar building.

There are also internal checks on growth. The school’s charter, notes president Patrick Harker, a former dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, limits borrowing for expansion. U.S. college applications are expected to fall with the number of high school grads. Cheap online courses threaten the idea of residential universities.

The result: Where workers once built Patton tanks, Plymouth Valiants, and Dodge Durangos, a mix of industrial, office, retail, and academic space is rising at what Harker calls the STAR Campus – for Science, Technology, and Applied Research.

“It’s a sign of the times what’s happening here. Really a public-private partnership that’s probably driven more by the private side,” says Kathleen Matt, dean of UD’s growing College of Health Sciences, which prepares 2,000 of the school’s 16,000 undergraduates to be physical therapists, physicians’ assistants, and other health professionals.

“The university has had to revise plans quite a few times,” said Alan Levin, the drugstore heir who serves as Markell’s economic-development czar. He compares the mixed uses at STAR to Liberty Property Trust’s Navy Yard Corporate Center in South Philadelphia. “You have to be fluid. That’s the way business is now evolving,” Levin added.

Here’s a look at the projects underway:

Wilmington developer Ernie Delle Donne (father of UD basketball star Elena Delle Donne) is gutting the former Chrysler administration building, which faces the main sports complex across College Avenue, and putting in a health sciences complex that is part classroom, part business.

“Pat Harker and Gov. Markell said they wanted this to be an ‘economic engine’ for Delaware. Well, it’s started,” says Delle Donne. He has hired Bancroft Construction and other Delaware contractors to build the first, $115 million stage of the project.

Delle Donne has been surprised by all of the would-be tenants. “The people who are lining up include a radiologist, a pharmacist, mental and behavioral health, a sleep lab, an eye-care center, orthopedic groups, a prosthetic group,” says Matt, the health-sciences dean.

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For additional information watch this video presented by PBS from July 20, 2012.

WHYY PBS Video: The Bright Future of UD’s STAR Campus

Watch First for Friday, July 20, 2012 on PBS. See more from First.