Colorado State University, Fort Collins Trade Land to Create New Research Center Near I-25

Colorado State University and the City of Fort Collins have entered into contracts to exchange land, providing the university with an opportunity to create a prime research center close to I-25 and the city an opportunity to expand a premier foothills natural area.

The transaction will provide CSU a 143-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Prospect Road and I-25. In exchange, the City’s Natural Areas Program will obtain 267 acres at the northern end of the Foothills Campus, which expands the Reservoir Ridge Natural Area.

The deal is scheduled to close on Nov. 20, 2007.

CSU President Larry Edward Penley envisioned the land trade and the research center as yet another way to speed groundbreaking technology developed at the university to the marketplace, helping to create jobs in the region while solving some of the world’s most overwhelming problems.

"As a knowledge economy – we are highly dependent on the fundamental products of higher education. This is a tremendous opportunity to further the university’s mission as an engine for economic growth throughout the region and the state," Penley said. "We envision this land as prime space for our research spinoffs and future business opportunities that arise from our new Supercluster models, particularly clean energy."

"The City of Fort Collins is excited because the trade conserves additional land for our Natural Areas program and fits with the City’s economic goals," said City Manager Darin Atteberry. "After this exchange, Reservoir Ridge Natural Area will become one of the City’s largest local natural areas at 748 acres. In addition, the City is able to leverage property we own to facilite a CSU-funded clean energy campus that will be a gateway at a major entrance into the City. It’s definitely a win-win."   

The development of the Superclusters and expanded investment in university research have been central components of Penley’s vision for Colorado State. During his tenure, the university has seen considerable growth in research expenditures, faculty and new facilities, but the launch of the Superclusters this year has drawn attention because of the potential for the innovative design to transform the way universities handle technology transfer. The Superclusters allow businesses and researchers to interact earlier in the product development process and help businesses more easily navigate the complex academic environment.

"This is what higher education can do for residents of Colorado and for economic development," Penley said. "Colorado State University is one of the nation’s top research institutions in the nation with nearly $300 million annual research expenditures. We make significant contributions to the region’s economic wealth."

In that vein, the university plans to use the I-25 land to develop a CSU-themed and branded office and research center with a focus on renewable energy companies. Negotiations are under way for AVA Solar, the CSU-founded start-up, to be an anchor tenant in the center with groundbreaking in early 2008.

AVA Solar plans to build a 200-megawatt factory to manufacture low-cost, high-efficiency solar panels. The pioneering, patented technology was developed by mechanical engineering Professor W.S. Sampath at Colorado State. Based on the average household usage, 200 megawatts will power 40,000 U.S. homes.

AVA, which was assisted by the CSU Office of Economic Development and the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp., is one of many examples of successful regional partnerships, Penley said. Northern Colorado’s regional job growth outpaced the state and national economies in part because of strong public private partnerships that often involve Colorado State University, he said.

The technology developed by AVA also illustrates Colorado State’s leadership in cutting-edge research in the area of alternative energy solutions and sustainability; more than 80 faculty members on campus from all eight colleges are involved in clean energy research, including 25 in the College of Engineering.

Development of the I-25-Prospect intersection will announce Prospect as the gateway to CSU.

The transaction for CSU is being facilitated by the Colorado State University Research Foundation, which aids the university with intellectual property patenting and licensing management; university start-ups; equipment leasing and municipal lease administration; financing of equipment, real estate and buildings through mortgage debt obligations; and land acquisition, development and management.