Research campus proposed for former Chrysler site
ON THE GREEN | The University has signed a purchase agreement for the 272-acre site of the former Chrysler Assembly Plant in Newark, an acquisition that President Patrick Harker says “will allow for the expansion of UD’s educational and research opportunities for all our students and the University community” far into the future.
The agreement, with a purchase price of $24.25 million, was approved on Nov. 12 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, where the automaker filed for bankruptcy protection in April. Chrysler had closed its Newark Assembly Plant the previous December.
Harker says the purchase offers numerous potential benefits. “In addition to enabling us to dramatically reshape the gateway to the University campus from the south, it provides us with a wealth of options as we move UD forward on our Path to Prominence,™” he says.
“We see great potential economic development and community infrastructure enhancement initiatives that will have a tremendously positive impact on the city, the state and the region.”
In announcing the purchase agreement in October, Harker said the acquisition of the property is critical to UD’s mission of being a driver of economic growth for the state.
The Chrysler site presents a variety of unique advantages for economic growth and development, he said, including its physical location within the region, access to transportation systems and road networks and its proximity to University programs, technical support and intellectual resources.
“We see the possibility of using the property to build upon the type of partnership activities supported by our Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships that will stimulate the state economy through employee recruitment, undergraduate programs, graduate education programs and research collaborations,” Harker said.
The initial objective for development at the site will be to create a research and technology campus. Because the site is adjacent to the University, faculty will be able to meet their teaching and basic research responsibilities while simultaneously utilizing their intellectual property to the benefit of the citizens of the state and the University, Harker said. Similarly, participation in faculty research and creation of businesses promote an entrepreneurial undergraduate and graduate student experience that will further foster economic growth.
The University’s preliminary analysis suggests the likely candidates for early inclusion in the park are UD’s emerging research partnerships with the Army, the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance and several University research centers and institutes.
Additional benefits of the acquisition include enhancing public transportation in and around Newark through transit-oriented development, especially given the location of the Amtrak train station adjacent to the property.
“We plan to work with the Delaware Department of Transportation, the city of Newark, our congressional delegation and others to craft solutions to current parking and train transportation issues, in order to make this a pleasant and convenient commuter location,” Harker said.
Last spring, the University’s Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of the property. Since then, UD officials have been working to finalize the purchase, which will mark the single largest addition to the Newark campus in UD history.