WMU News

New multi-firm building and anchor tenant for BTR

Oct. 17, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- A well-known Michigan engineering firm will be the first tenant in a new multi-firm facility that will be built by local developers at Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park at WMU's Parkview Campus.

Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc., an engineering, scientific and architectural firm, will be the anchor tenant in a 24,000-square-foot building to be constructed by Pro Line Opportunity Group LLC. The engineering firm is expected to occupy about 8,500 square feet of the new building, which ultimately will be home to several other businesses in the BTR Park's focus areas of advanced engineering, information technology and the life sciences.

Plans for the new facility, which will be located along U.S. 131, will be presented for review by the Kalamazoo Planning Commission at the commission's next meeting Thursday, Oct. 18. Once development plans are approved, site work is expected to begin immediately. General contractor for the project is A.J. Veneklasen Inc., and the architectural firm is MHB Paradigm.

According to Pro Line principals Bob Cook of Richland, Bob Deal of Plainwell and Chris Veneklasen of Grand Rapids, WMU and city of Kalamazoo officials are working with them to identify additional tenants for the building. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy by its initial tenant in late spring 2002.

The anchor tenant, FTC&H, with its strong civil and environmental engineering track record, is an ideal fit for the BTR Park, says Robert Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach. He notes that FTC&H already has played an active role in the development of the park and has completed surveying, bridge design and construction engineering inspection services there. Future collaboration will occur between the firm and University researchers and academic programs.

"This is another wonderful example of the private sector choosing to partner with the University," Miller says. "In this case, FTC&H will work closely with the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences as it develops its new civil engineering program. The firm also has a well-respected environmental practice, and its representatives already have met with researchers in the University's Environmental Institute to discuss the possibility of working together."

The College of Engineering and Applied Sciences also will be located at the University's Parkview Campus, with construction of its new facility set for completion in 2003. The college is planning a civil engineering program and expects the first classes in the discipline to be offered in fall 2003.

"We are delighted at the prospect of having a firm of this caliber as a resident partner in the BTR," says Dr. Daniel M. Litynksi, dean of the college. "They offer an outstanding example of the range and variety of projects engineers in this discipline take on. We look forward to having our faculty and students work with them at the Parkview Campus.

FTC&H currently has Michigan offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Farmington Hills and a staff of more than 275 engineers, scientists, architects, surveyors and other professionals. Its Kalamazoo office, which currently is located in the city's Haymarket Building, has grown in recent years from five staff members to more than 20. The new facility at the BTR Park is expected to accommodate the firm's future growth and expansion goals, which include branching out into new markets and offering additional services.

An employee-owned company, FTC&H has been recognized by Engineering News-Record as one of the nation's "Top 500 Design Firms." Its projects range from small feasibility, planning and regulatory studies to large design and construction projects. It serves industrial, governmental, institutional and private-sector clients at both the local and national level.

The 265-acre Parkview Campus and BTR development, located at the intersection of Parkview Avenue and Drake Road, will be home to WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a paper and printing science research facility, which is currently under construction. The park, which in April was designated as a Michigan SmartZone, includes development space for high-technology firms. Tenants already announced include Richard-Allan Scientific Inc., a life-science firm, and Fluid Process Equipment Inc., an engineering firm that specializes in fluid handling systems. Southwest Michigan First has announced it will build a business incubator-the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center-at the park. Two life science firms, Ann Arbor-based Esperion Therapeutics Inc. and Chicago-based NephRx Corp., will be tenants in that facility.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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