Two major expansions in the works for UA Tech Parks

June 8, 2018

The next few years will be big for the UA’s Tech Park, and big for Tucson’s southern reaches in general. Over a billion-dollars-worth of construction is planned for the Tech Park in two new locations: The Bridges and The Village.

“These are both long-term projects,” said incoming UA Tech Parks Board Chair Tom Warne. “It’ll cover quite a few large-scale buildings.” 

The Bridges constitutes 65 acres of land, two miles south of the University campus, at the convergence of Kino Parkway and Interstate 10. The site is planned as a technology hub, modeled off of innovative districts from other universities in the nation. The Bridges will have over 2,000,000 square feet of lab and office space. 

 The Bridges is divided into four precincts for technology, business, corporate and university endeavors. UA selected the Boyer Company out of Salt Lake City to design and develop the 20-acre “Technology Precinct” at The Bridges. The Technology Precinct will include a full hotel and conference center, plus a parking structure and 400,000 square feet of office and lab space.

Tech Parks hopes to reach a development agreement with Boyer by July 1, and once final designs are completed, possibly start construction next January. 

“It’s going to be a very thought out place,” Warne said. “It will have nature areas, parking deck and open spaces.”

The Village will be developed at the west end of the UA Tech Park on a 175-acre site near Kolb Road and Science Park Drive. The process of construction negotiations should be finished by mid-summer, with development possibly starting by late 2019. Local developer Bourn Companies will handle construction of The Village. 

The Village will comprise retail, commercial, residential and hotel space. The construction aims to address urban design and connectivity factors such as walking and biking. 

According to Tech Parks Associate Vice President Bruce Wright, both construction projects will likely have a large impact on Tucson-area employment. Bourn Companies is a local developer, and the Boyer Company, although based out of Utah, has a history of working with UA and hiring local contractors.

“Even though they’re based out of Salt Lake City, Boyer has a strong base here in Tucson,” Wright said. 

The projects are expected to last around 10 years and constitute over 5 million square feet. Both are planned to be green-certified buildings with solar panels and outdoor space.

“Both projects are built around the concept of an urban village,” Wright said. “We want them to be a community where people can live, learn, work, play and stay.” 

Both The Bridges and The Village are based off the “smart city” environmental design, with connecting paths and trails to the community and surrounding neighborhoods. 

“We truly want a village environment,” Warne said. “These aren’t going to be institutional buildings built one after another. It’s going to be a microclimate environment, a nice place to go to work.” 

Beyond the construction employment itself, the new spaces will expand employment offers for recent UA graduates. Tech Parks currently employs around 7,000, and these expansions could double that number. Wright said that one of the main goals at UA Tech Parks is employee attraction and retention. 

“I think that several of the new employees there will come out of UA,” Warne said. “This will provide jobs for Tucson and help maintain people here. Hopefully this will expand opportunities for those just out of UA.” 

Warne added that aside from employee retention, such massive new office and lab space would also be a draw for workers to come to Tucson. Not only could this double the size of the Tech Parks population, but also double the size of the Tech Park area in Tucson. 

“We hope this will create a new kind of environment in Tucson,” Wright said. “One that will put us at the leading edge of urban development.”