June 09, 2010
By: by Larry Rulison, Business Writer, Times Union
ALBANY -- The University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is planning a massive expansion of its Fuller Road campus that would add nearly a half million square feet of new buildings -- including a garage -- and 1,000 new jobs.
The plans are included in documents UAlbany has presented to government entities as part of the state's environmental review process and provide the public with the first details about the 11-acre project, which the NanoCollege has been keeping quiet.
The NanoCollege, which hosts companies like IBM and the international computer chip consortium Sematech, currently has about 800,000 square feet of space spread through four main buildings and several "clean rooms" where computer chip research is conducted around the clock. More than 2,500 people work at the facility.
Although the NanoCollege borders residential areas to the south and the Pine Bush preserve to the west, the expansion would occur away from that on land owned by the college north of Washington Avenue Extension. It would be coordinated with a $20 million project proposed by Albany County to realign the intersection of Washington Avenue and Fuller Road.
"We are committed to growing CNSE's educational and research capabilities," said NanoCollege spokesman Steve Janack. "We are expanding away from the neighborhood as the best location for expansion."
NanoCollege properties are actually owned by a nonprofit called Fuller Road Management Corp., which gives the school flexibility in obtaining funding and leasing space to commercial entities.
Janack would not say how much the project would cost or how the college would obtain funding for the expansion. The school used private funding to build its latest building, called NanoFab East.
The current set of buildings on the campus, built between 1997 and 2009, cost nearly $400 million, so it would likely mean, using rough math, that the expansion would cost $200 million to $300 million.
"Those are things that we're looking at," he said. "That's down the road."
Documents obtained by the Times Union show that a Phase 1 of the project could start as early as this fall. That part of the project would include a 191,000-square-foot building that would have a 25,000-square-foot clean room inside. There will also be a bridge crossing Washington Avenue Extension and new entrances into the college. A new maintenance and storage building would also be built.
A second phase, which would continue through 2014, would include construction of two new mixed-use buildings totaling 300,000 square feet of space that will include a parking garage for more than 500 cars.
The project is also expected to support 400 construction jobs.
A roundabout is envisioned at the NanoCollege's current entrance at the intersection of Fuller Road and Tricentennial Drive, and the college says it could begin construction "before the relocation" of Washington Avenue Extension.
An Albany County spokeswoman said the county is still working on obtaining public financing for that roadwork, although an announcement could come soon.
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