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Research and technology park at UNLV starts to take shape

If you build it, they will come.

Construction of the first innovation building of the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park at UNLV is officially underway. The university hopes the park will draw more tech-focused businesses to Las Vegas.

The four-story, 115,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed next spring and cost around $30 million. Developers said they are still finalizing when the entire park, which will have up to 12 buildings, will be completed.

An economic analysis conducted by UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research expects the park to create as many as 25,000 jobs and have an economic impact of up to $2.6 billion in Las Vegas.

“Tenants will ultimately drive economic development in the region,” said Jeremy Aguero, principal at Applied Analysis. “Having (the tech park) is a critical first step in ensuring there is a platform for those companies who want to be in Nevada and have a place to expand and develop those technologies.”

Bolstering research

UNLV is classified as a research university and set a mission to become a top-tier research institute about five years ago. Goals include spending $120 million a year on research by 2025 and increasing patent applications, doctoral graduates, research staff and research space.

Dan Stewart, partner and vice president of development at real estate developer Gardner Co., said the park will help achieve these goals.

“This is one of the key components, in my opinion, that will assist UNLV getting to a top-tier research institution,” Stewart said.

The park will be managed and operated by both the UNLV Research Foundation and Gardner Co.

A ceremony Tuesday morning marked the groundbreaking of the first innovation building.

UNLV and an unannounced major corporate sponsor will occupy the third and fourth floors in the innovation building, leaving the bottom two floors open for companies to lease. The foundation is still looking for tenants.

Zach Miles, executive director of the UNLV Research Foundation, said the foundation hopes to fill the bottom two floors with high-tech companies.

“Research parks are really intended to advance innovative ideas and startup companies and bring a lot of economic diversification,” Miles said.

Attracting business

UNLV acquired 122 acres of land for the UNLV Tech Park, located near the intersection of West Sunset Road and South Durango Drive, in 2002, but Miles said the research foundation didn’t start moving forward with a master plan until around 2014.

Most tech parks “take decades to build out,” Stewart said. “It’s a long-term process. You have to be selective on who comes to the park.”

The innovation building will have offices, research space and lab space, along with amenities like a basketball court and electric vehicle charging stations.

“This is the first class A office building that I’ve seen out in this area,” Kem Gardner, Gardner Co.’s chairman, said at the groundbreaking event. “I think it will be very attractive and help attract more jobs to this area.”

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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