University Research Park’s first annual meeting on Sept. 9 drew several dozen representatives of property owners and tenants to the Fox Sports Research Drive facility. University City Partners, which oversees operations, gave updates on new development and improvements to park roads, greenways, signage and landscaping. Charlotte Transit staff also presented plans for linking URP businesses to future light-rail stations on North Tryon Street.
University City Partners officially took over park operations in June, at the request of the longtime park management group, University Research Park Inc. Management responsibilities include expanding and investing in park amenities, protecting the park’s natural environment, maintaining a superior business environment and helping to attract and retain park businesses.
UCP Executive Director Darlene Heater said the idea for the first ever annual meeting came from park businesses. “When we first started reaching out to owners in University Research Park about the potential management transition, one of the requests they made was, ‘It would be great to get together at least once a year as an owners and tenants group to understand your priorities in the park,’ “ Heater said.
About 50 people attended the information-packed breakfast briefing on Sept. 9. Among the details shared at the meeting:
- Operations – How last year’s budget was invested, financial details, goals for the coming year and immediate and long-term operations.
- Roads – Plans for road and sidewalk improvements, including two bridges spanning I-85 and additional park roads to provide good access to all park properties.
- Greenways – Plans to pave the long gravel segment of Mallard Creek Greenway and get easements for two future greenways along Doby Creek and the natural area between Innovation Park and the Wells Fargo CIC.
- Signage – Progress report of installing new signs, landscaping and lighting at main entrances and long-term plans to erect significant structures at the park’s two primary entrances: Claude Freeman Drive at Mallard Creek Church Road, and Research Drive at W.T. Harris Boulevard.
- New web portal – Owners and tenant managers can now access URP documents such as budgets at a password-protected on the newly updated website, universitycitypartners.org.
- Transit plans – Brian Horton with CATS gave a brief presentation of possible future routes between the park and LYNX stations on North Tryon Street, plus a process for updating current plans over the coming year.
The reaction to all of the updates very positive, Heater says. “Folks hung around for probably 30 to 45 minutes after the meeting, just networking and talking to us about things we had covered,” she said. “There were a lot of comments about the signage because it had just gone up.”
The CATS presentation on updating research-park transit connections also generated much interest, she said. “They are just starting this work, and they asked tenants to meet with them separately to talk about how employees may use transit, and what the needs and desires are of those companies both today and as they look to their future growth plans.”
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