Land acquired for OKC Innovation District project

Published Tuesday, January 12, 2021
by Journal Record Staff

A planned 400,000-square-foot development on prime real estate near downtown Oklahoma City will be a place for collaborative innovation by professionals in energy, aerospace and other key industries in Oklahoma.

Commercial real estate developers Richard Tanenbaum, of Gardner Tanenbaum, and Mark Beffort, of Robinson Park Investments, confirmed that they have secured 2.7 acres in the city’s Innovation District near NE Eighth Street and Interstate 235 to develop the project. Groundbreaking is planned for late 2021.

Planned is an environment that will promote aviation, aerospace, bioscience and energy industry collaboration. Facilities will feature shared research labs and technologies for things like 3D imaging and printing, the project planners said.

“In OKC we’re no stranger to big ambition. We’re honored to work alongside our city leaders to build on OKC’s reputation as a front-runner in national innovation. The foundation of this project is inclusion, diversity, growth, and opportunity for all Oklahomans,” said Beffort, the chief executive officer at Robinson Park Investments.

Designed by FSB Architects, the complex’s pedestrian-centric layout will feature labs and office space, a hotel, retail space, and a public realm providing an open-air community environment. A key feature will be Innovation Hall, a central place to develop initiatives to grow Oklahoma City’s innovation economy, something that was proposed as a MAPS 4 project.

“This world-class showcase for innovation is an economic win for OKC that will further enhance collaboration between industries, academia, business and public sectors,” said Ryan Dawson, FSB associate principal.

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is among supporters of the project. The University of Oklahoma has signed on as an educational and research partner.

“The University of Oklahoma is thrilled to be the educational partner for this transformative expansion in the Innovation District,” OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. said. “The project affords tremendous opportunity for OU to further grow our life-changing research in the areas of biotechnology, aerospace and defense, advanced manufacturing and more. We’re eager to see how this critical partnership will enable us to extend our work in harnessing innovation and path-breaking discoveries for the betterment of Oklahoma and beyond.”

OMRF President Dr. Stephen Prescott said Oklahoma City has been building momentum in the biotechnology arena, and the project should advance collaboration between emerging technology sectors.

“With OMRF’s track record of successfully spinning off startup companies, we recognize a great opportunity when we see one,” he said. “This new space will catalyze cross-pollination and innovation, as well as fuel the development of top-notch researchers and scientists in our community.”

Wheeler Labs, a clinical laboratory that develops high-complexity diagnostic services and plans expansion into bio-manufacturing, has planned to be an anchor tenant. Wheeler Labs is the first portfolio company of Echo Investment Capital’s venture capital fund in biotech.

“Uniting the health science corridor with downtown is exactly what our community needs,” Echo Investment Capital founder Christian Kanady said. “We can offer a compelling proposition to pharma and health care companies by offering the highest-quality, lowest-cost pathways to discover new medicine. We’ve yet to speak with an investor, scientist, or venture capitalist who’s not interested in collaboration once they’ve heard the story.”

The Oklahoma City Innovation District encompasses 1.3 square miles east of downtown. Along with this project, the district is projected to provide more than 6,000 jobs over the next three to five years.

Innovation District CEO Katy Evans Boren said the district was envisioned to be an “epicenter” of opportunity and economic growth.

“We convene divergent industries to create opportunities for next-level innovation,” she said. “Researchers, entrepreneurs, and big-thinkers all converge here in a collaborative environment (and) this state-of-the-art development will position our city as a leading competitor for new companies, jobs and talent in a global economy.”

The joint effort between commercial developers Tanenbaum and Beffort marks a significant partnership, each with a portfolio that spans the nation.

“This project ushers in a new era for our ever-growing city,” Tanenbaum said. “Researchers, engineers, universities and industry leaders are pioneering Oklahoma-born advances in bioscience, aerospace, energy and health. We’ve matched that trailblazing spirit to develop, design, and build the environment for technological collaboration. We’ve established the equivalent of a high-performance sports team, and the MVPs are front and center.”

The developers said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, City Manager Craig Freeman, and Ward 7 Councilwoman Nicky Nice have been briefed on the project.

This story originally ran on the 

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