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Regents Support Research Plans for Fort McPherson

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Atlanta — April 15, 2009

When the U.S. Army closes Fort McPherson in Sept. 2011 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), University System of Georgia (USG) officials want to be ready to move in and implement current plans to redevelop part of the base into a new research park.

The proposed focus of the research park district is bioscience and healthcare research, which is in line with one of six goals in the regents’ current strategic plan – enhancing research. The research park will help Georgia’s public and private research universities expand research activities and generate employment opportunities.

“The University System can utilize its significant intellectual capital assets towards the creation of a research park on the Fort McPherson property,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. “Such a research park will strengthen ongoing efforts to attract high-tech operations to Georgia.”

While planning has been ongoing since Sept. 2007, today the University System’s Board of Regents approved a resolution in which the regents formally accepted Gov. Sonny Perdue’s charge to the board to lead “state efforts in the creation of a world-class research park at Fort McPherson to provide significant economic development for the State of Georgia for decades to come.”

Currently, the State of Georgia is working with the McPherson Planning Local Redevelopment Authority (MPLRA) to obtain 115 acres or more of the base from the U.S. Army via an Economic Development Conveyance (EDC). The redevelopment will be a partnership effort between the State of Georgia, the Georgia Research Alliance, a yet-to-be-identified research park anchor tenant and the University System.

During its meeting today, board members heard from Jack C. Sprott, executive director of MPLRA, who provided an update on the status of the base closure and redevelopment planning. He said, the plan is to transform Fort McPherson and the surrounding neighborhoods into a “nationally acclaimed, world-class, thriving community, where people work, live, learn, and play.”

Within the district’s 115 acres will be 2.4 million square feet of office and lab space in a campus-like setting. Plans call for 1,000 units of high-density residential space and 587,000 square feet of office space, which currently exists, and office and research space for a new Global Bioscience Center, Sprott said.

The USG’s four research universities – Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, the Medical College of Georgia and the University of Georgia will have a presence in the research park conducting research in areas such as: bioengineering, nanotechnology, immunology, chemistry, cell imaging, molecular medicine, complex carbohydrates, poultry, and drug discovery.

“This project is the chance of a lifetime to establish a research park so close to Hartsfield Jackson Airport, between two MARTA stops, and close to downtown Atlanta. We anticipate this research park will become a hub for research activities in many areas, but mainly focusing on global health,” said Shelley Nickel, associate vice chancellor of planning and implementation.

A memorandum of understanding was executed with the U.S. Army in Feb. 2008. In May 2008, Gov. Perdue signed legislation creating the MPLRA. The zoning process was initiated in Feb. 2009. Future plans call for the EDC application to be submitted to the U.S. Army on Sept. 1, 2009, and the property to be transferred to a state redevelopment authority after Sept. of 2011.

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