Booming UI Research Park Running Into Potential Growing Pains

Category : Research Park
Posted on: February 12, 2018

Read this full story at the News-Gazette.

If counted as a company, the Research Park is now the third largest employer in the county, falling just behind Carle Hospital and the University of Illinois, The News-Gazette reported in its Sunday edition. 

Employment at the park is up 17 percent since 2016, with more than 2,000 employees at the numerous companies the park is home to. 

“In the last five years, the Research Park grew at a faster clip than ever before with new building after new building,” said Research Park Director, Laura Frerichs.

The Fox/Atkins Mixed Use building, which was just completed right before the new year in December, is already 75 percent full, with recent grand openings of Monsanto, Brunswick, and Synchrony Financial filling up the space, with more companies to join. 

Additionally, the Mixed Use buidling will be the first Research Park building to offer retail spaces. As the Research Park grows, organizers are looking to make the park more than just an office park, with restaurants and shopping available to do outside of work, which would provide food options right in the park to employees, such as University students who might not have a car. 

According to Frerichs, while the park doesn’t know who these retailers will be yet, there are local restaurants who are looking at the park as an additional location to serve their customers. 

The Research Park continues to expand so quickly, it is facing some growing pains. The feed mill, a University research facility, is located a block south from the I Hotel and Conference Center, which is not an ideal location for the expanding park. 

However, Research Park developer, Peter Fox, has hired an engineering consultant to begin working on a plan that would build a new feed mill, to be located near Curtis Road and Race Street in Urbana.