University research district estimated to be completed in 2015

The Biomedical Discovery District will encompass 400,000 square feet north of Stadium Village.

A $292 million Biomedical Discovery District that would cover almost 400,000 square feet near TCF Bank Stadium hangs in the budgetary balance, awaiting a definite completion date. The district, originally slated to be finished in 2013, will include the nearly finished $67.5 million Medical Biosciences Building. In addition, a $53.2 million renovation and expansion to the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research was projected to begin construction this summer âÄî a date that was pushed to late fall. There are three more research buildings in the preliminary planning stage that will house research in cancer, cardiovascular health and infectious diseases. Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Frank B. Cerra said the completion dates of these three buildings may be closer to 2015 since there have been delays because planners are reworking the layout of what he calls a âÄúnew campus.âÄù To unify the area and streamline costs, Tom DeAngelo, president and CEO of Architectural Alliance, a firm working with the three buildings in the planning stage, said he is looking for âÄúany opportunities to get operational synergies or cost improvements by looking at all three of these things together.âÄù DeAngelo said opportunities may include shared social spaces, cafes, a vivarium and laboratories. Despite streamlining, creating a new campus may be challenging during what University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks said is âÄúnot a time to greatly expand the amount of square footage the University manages.âÄù âÄúWe are consolidating space, we are downsizing space usage across the University âÄî in fact, thatâÄôs one of the UniversityâÄôs greatest cost savings in the UniversityâÄôs budget,âÄù he said. But Bruininks also said it was irresponsible to declare a moratorium on new facilities necessary to the UniversityâÄôs missions. Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFLâàíSt. Paul, said expansion of the Biomedical Discovery District is necessary for the University to grow in its ranking among national colleges. He advocated pushing biomedical projects forward in legislative meetings this April. âÄúWe can pretend weâÄôre a turtle and pull are heads in and all of our arms and legs in, and just sit there and spin around in despair. Or, we can say, âÄòOK, we made a commitment, and weâÄôre going to grow, and weâÄôre going to come out of this recession stronger than when we went inâÄô,âÄù Mahoney said. In April, Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFLâàíVirgina, suggested evaluating the situation after the Medical Biosciences Building and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research are finished. He said he was concerned by the how fast the University would move on the next three buildings, and said that statewide there are âÄúother projects that might move along quicker.âÄù Despite this, Rick Johnson, program director of the Biomedical Discovery District, said funding for the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research and the three new buildings was approved by the Legislature last year. Seventy-five percent of funding for the Biomedical Discovery District will come from state funding and 25 percent from University funding, Cerra said. Associate Vice President at Capital Planning and Project Management Michael Perkins said they will move forward with the projects. âÄúThe bottom line is anything that weâÄôve been working on that we have, in terms of capital projects, is pretty much intact in terms of, you know, no expected cutbacks,âÄù Perkins said. âÄúMost of the jeopardy will come in how much do we get funded for as we move forward and how fast do we move forward on the ones that are in the planning mode.âÄù âÄî Elizabeth Sias contributed to this report