With Arizona gaining more attention as a biotechnology destination, it stands to reason people will ask: Where will all the new arrivals find the bench space they need to change our lives? The City of Tempe is about to offer an answer as it moves ahead with the development of the city’s first biomedical and technology campus.


Plans call for building a complex featuring five, five- to eight-story buildings offering approximately 1 million square feet on 18 acres of land that the city owns on Rio Salado Parkway west of Tempe Center for the Arts (TCA). With approximately 15,000 technology jobs paying an annual average of $95,000 already in Tempe, city officials see the value the project offers for Tempe’s future.


“We are experiencing tremendous momentum in Tempe when it comes to attracting businesses that bring jobs and tax revenue used to maintain and improve the quality of life for our residents,” Mayor Mark Mitchell said. “Companies are coming to Tempe because we have a skilled and diverse workforce, a great energy and a concentration of tech companies.  The Tempe Biomedical and Technology Campus will be an exciting, key addition to our mix of cutting-edge businesses that benefit our community and set Tempe apart.”


To get the project done, the city is partnering with three companies that are no strangers to making such projects a reality:


The Boyer Company – One of the largest full-service real estate development firms in the western United States, the company has offices in Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Boyer has developed more than 34 million square feet of office, medical office, research, retail and industrial space for clients throughout the nation.


Okland Construction – The Tempe-based company is a national general contractor and construction manager. It specializes in commercial office, healthcare, higher education, life sciences and other technical projects.


SmithGroupJJR – The company’s nationally recognized science & technology practice has completed the planning and design of more than 20 million square feet of academic, corporate and government research laboratories that range from small laboratory renovations to large research campuses. 


The team proposed to Tempe officials a project that will include phased-in buildings to support the biomedical, bioscience and technology industries. It will include a workforce training center and two mixed-use parking structures with about 2,500 spaces that will share space with TCA patrons, including rehearsal and artist space, a rooftop restaurant, and trails connecting the proposed project with the Tempe Town Lake trail system and TCA.


Structures will be built to meet sustainable standards that would be certified as Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, which commonly referred to as LEED. Any development on the acreage also will need to meet the most recently updated FAA noise mitigation measures identified in a Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport noise compatibility study for all new construction in the area in which the property is located. In their proposal, the three companies also offered a revenue-sharing opportunity with the city after all development costs have been recouped.


The trio banded together to submit one of the four proposals answering the city’s request for qualifications related to site plans for development of the land as a biomedical and technology campus to provide research facilities and specialized lab space. The selected team scored highest in an evaluation process based on experience, financial strength, project design and organizational capacity. The companies and city staff will begin crafting a development agreement, which will require final approval by the Tempe City Council. The agreement could include the sale or lease of the land, among other provisions.


The city expects the new International Biomedical Technology Campus to lead to new opportunities for partnerships as public and private sector scientists and engineers need lab space to conduct research leading to discoveries in industries such as pharmaceutical, biomedical, manufacturing and biotechnology. For example, Arizona State University is adding a building to The Biodesign Institute on the southern end of ASU’s nearby main campus. The institute is considered the state’s largest research infrastructure investment in the biosciences. The interdisciplinary scientific research departments it houses work with companies and researchers to find solutions to global problems.


“The project's close proximity to ASU, key Tempe employers, the airport and area freeways make this an ideal location,” said Matt Jensen, partner and senior project manager for the Boyer Company. “Our company is focused on developing projects that help build communities. This project has the potential to create a technology-focused area that will benefit the region.”


Photo Credit: City of Tempe