Cornell’s Office Park

1 03 2013
Image Property of Cornell Real Estate

Image Property of Cornell Real Estate

Previously, I’ve mentioned how Cornell almost had a convention center/hotel, a large hand in the airport, and a particle accelerator under the stadium. It seems almost without saying that Cornell would have a stake in an office park as well, and perhaps such a mundane asset would fly under the radar. As it has on this blog for years, not for lack of knowledge but for lack of interest.

For the uninitiated, business parks are clusters of office/commercial buildings, popular in suburban areas. In my hometown with its almighty 6,000 residents, we had one, which was so terribly stuck in the 1980s one might as well have parked a DeLorean in front of it for marketing purposes (then again, growing up in an upstate rust belt town, I can count on one hand the number of new buildings I’ve seen built there since moving away for college in 2006).

Cornell’s is just a little bit older, though most of the construction occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.  In 1951, Cornell decided to partner up with General Electric to establish a research lab near the airport. Public-private partnerships on research are nothing new. While Cornell assisted in the research, the lab was leased by GE. Unlike some of its involvements, Cornell actually owned the land and buildings for this endeavor, using old property and the lands from its airport. Cornell sold off the airport in 1956 but still owned the land to the south, donating some to the state when Route 13 was constructed in the late 1950s.

Things were a bit of a roller coaster at first. GE was the only tenant when they decided to leave in 1964, leaving the recently-completed Langmuir Lab vacant. TCAD took over development of the park while the lab building was donated to Cornell (development rights were relinquished back to Cornell in the ’80s), and CU housed some of its functions in Langmuir to keep the space occupied, with the last major university back-office leaving in 1987. The complex sort of languished through the 1970s, only taking off in the late 1980s when the trustees allowed the development of office buildings and limited commercial enterprises, rather than just research/industrial structures. It was in 1988 that its current name, the Cornell Business & Technology Park, was adopted.

Here’s an easy guide for the park – if the street name is Arrowwood or Brentwood, it’s a medical office building. If Thornwood, Brown or Warren, office or research/industrial.

The breakdown for build-out over time has been as follows:

Start-up (83 Brown Road, a former aeronautical lab renovated to start the business park in 1951, expanded ’53, ’55)

1960s: 3 structures, Langmuir Lab [1960] and 777 Warren Road [1967], 61 Brown Road [1969, addition 1997].

1970s: Diddly squat.

1980s: 6 structures: 9 Brown Road [1985],747 Warren Road [1987], 20 Thornwood Drive [1988], 33 Thornwood [1989], 579 Warren [1989], 10 Arrowwood [1989, additions 1993, 1997]

1990s: 10 structures, quite the boom:  55 Brown Road [1990], 767 Warren [1990], 757 Warren [The USPS Main Office, 1992], 53 Brown [1993], 22 Thornwood [1995], 15 Thornwood [1997], 20 Thornwood [1997], 22 Thornwood [1997, addition 1999], 10 Brentwood [1998], 30 Brown [1998]

2000s: 6 structures: Marriott Hotel [2000], 36 Thornwood [2001], 10 Brown [2001, addition 2007], 35 Thornwood [2003], 19 Brown [2006], and … It should be noted 83/85 Brown were demolished in 2005. The last building to be built was 16 Brentwood, in 2009.

So that gives about 25 structures, which total about 700,000 square feet, spread out over 200 acres. As far as I’m aware, the park has 100 acres of residential that remain undeveloped. The park has about 80 tenant companies, 1600 workers, and does in fact pay property taxes. It comes with most of the corporate amenities – outdoor picnic areas, daycare, a restaurant, over-manicured lawns and ponds, and enormous amounts of parking, bringing a little bit of everyday homogenous suburbia to the ITH. A few lots are still undeveloped, mostly parcels next to 13.

So add this to the list of developments Cornell has had its hands in. At the very least, it encourages gives Ithaca room for suburban offices….although personally I’d prefer they try downtown first.

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