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Old Dominion University today announced the award of a development agreement to HRC One LLC to develop two new facilities for its Tri-Cities Higher Education Center and Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) along the I-664 corridor. Both centers are currently located on the Portsmouth campus of Tidewater Community College.

The Tri-Cities Center, which serves the residents of Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Suffolk, will be located in the city of Portsmouth, while the facility for VMASC, which has evolved into a major force in Hampton Roads' economic development picture, will be situated within the Suffolk city limits. The two buildings will be the centerpiece of the planned MAST Center at Hampton Roads, a 32-acre research, education and technology park.

"Old Dominion University is pleased that the development of its Tri-Cities and VMASC facilities will be located along this most important corridor," said President Roseann Runte. "The university's outstanding academic offerings and cutting-edge research will be in the heart of the burgeoning high-tech industry emerging along I-664, which allows us to continue our successful partnerships with military, educational and industrial organizations."

ODU's Tri-Cities Center is a full-service educational facility offering upper-level undergraduate classes, as well as graduate classes and certificate programs. Once built, the center's new home will add even more courses and programs, including those in support of the three-city area's current and future work force initiatives.

"Hampton Roads has become a major center for modeling, simulation and visualization related investment. This exciting project will allow the citizens of Hampton Roads to benefit from tremendous employment and educational opportunities," said E. Dana Dickens III, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Partnership.

The buildings are expected to be completed and occupancy anticipated by the start of Old Dominion's fall 2007 semester.

"We are pleased with the quality and responsiveness of all four proposals we reviewed," said Robert L. Fenning, ODU's vice president for administration and finance. "HRC One's successful bid will result in an exceptional instructional facility as well as an optimum research facility for VMASC. From a general location perspective, all of the proposals recognized the importance of being close to the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Warfighting Center and to the private sectors on both sides of the river."

Fenning added that many factors were taken into consideration in reviewing the proposals, including financing; location and access; visibility of the site; development plan expedience; planning that addressed the "most appropriate and intense use of a site" and identified the capacity for expansion; demonstrated past success with projects of similar scope; and ability to successfully market office/research space.

The developer, HRC One, LLC is a joint venture between HL Development Services Group, an affiliate of Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate, and Terry Peterson Residential Companies.

"The MAST Center will provide an environment to develop the modeling and simulation activities within Hampton Roads - we see this project as vital to the economic future of the region and the state," said William A. Hudgins, president and CEO of HL Development.

The $10.2 million, 50,000-square-foot, two-story Tri-Cities Center, which is being financed through a combination of general obligation bonds and developer equity, will be owned and operated by Old Dominion and maintained privately. It will accommodate the electronic classrooms and laboratories for upper-division undergraduate courses in a variety of academic disciplines, as well as selected graduate programs. Space in the building will also be set aside for a number of Tidewater Community College classrooms, selected laboratories and faculty offices.

VMASC, which in November announced the selection of Col. Michael McGinnis, head of the Department of Systems Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy, as its new director, is a not-for-profit collaborative center that partners with academia, industry and government in the areas of modeling, simulation and visualization research, development and education; and leveraging, promoting and cultivating simulation technology expertise through industry, government and academia. The center offers both master's and doctoral degree programs.

Established in 1997, VMASC has rapidly become a catalyst for the growth of modeling and simulation in Hampton Roads, and ODU has gained recognition as one of the dominant academic institutions in the M&S area. Most recently, Gov. Mark Warner announced a $27 million package of budget proposals for VMASC and other key components of the modeling and simulation industry in the region.

The new home for VMASC will be a two-story, 60,000-square-foot facility, to be constructed at a cost of $11.6 million. The building will be financed by the developer and the university will lease the space.

ODU's Center for Advanced Engineering Environments, which is located at the university's Peninsula Higher Education Center, will locate additional facilities in the new building. CAEE serves as a focal point for the diverse research activities pertaining to distributed collaborative synthesis and learning technologies and their application to future aerospace systems.

"This project will significantly enhance workforce development and research capabilities for the growing modeling and simulation industry through an innovative financial structure worked out in partnership between ODU, the Commonwealth of Virginia and HRC One," noted Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Michael J. Schewel.

ODU's new development along Hampton Roads' I-664 corridor is expected to be a boon to the entire region, and the mayors of Portsmouth and Suffolk look forward to these facilities joining their cities.

"The City of Portsmouth is proud to have the opportunity to be a participant in this regional collaboration with the City of Suffolk and the developer, HRC One, LLC," said Portsmouth Mayor James W. Holley III. "The VMASC and Tri-Cities Center complexes, in conjunction with the adjoining development, will ignite the western Portsmouth and enhance the existing northern Suffolk developments."

"This is a great day for both the City of Suffolk and the City of Portsmouth," said Suffolk Mayor Bobby Ralph. "This project is a tremendous economic development initiative for our region. The modeling and simulation industry is growing at a rapid pace and we are excited about the opportunity to be a part of these dynamic new developments."

"Over the past 75 years, I feel as though I have grown with the University and I am pleased to be a part of this phase of their growth. We are excited to be a part of The MAST Center development and look forward to our partnership with Old Dominion", said Harvey L. Lindsay, Jr., Chairman of Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate."

This article was posted on: January 13, 2006

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