Nick Timiraos of the WSJ has an interesting article explaining the growing role of universities in the economic development of cities and regions — from theaters and apartments to research and the aggregation of highly intelligent people. I have read and experienced this topic quite a bit through my work with Richard Florida and the Creative Class Group. Its a fascinating part of my interest in campus entrepreneurship and involves many outside (not student/faculty/staff) players. Often times major real estate owners/developers.
The article offers examples from Penn/Philadelphia, Case Western/Cleveland, and NYU/New York. It would be interesting to hear more on smaller communities employing such strategies. (I am off to Dayton tomorrow to work with University/Municipal leaders in the Dayton region).
From the Wall Street Journal’s article, Colleges Teach ‘Urban Development 101’,
Developers are eager to join ventures with colleges, which they see as providing a steady stream of business. “Universities are fairly reliable partners,” says Sal D. Rinella, president-elect of the Society for College and University Planning, who argues that universities are recession-resistant: “As the overall economy gets worse, higher education enrollments tend to go up.”
Penn’s campus expansion will allow the school to move administrative and nonessential activities to the campus periphery while bringing academic and residential units to the campus center.
Penn has partnered with Brandywine Realty Trust, which has a 90-year lease on the property it plans to develop. Construction has begun on one parcel, but the 2012 completion date for the 43-story Cira Centre South office building could be pushed back by the current credit crunch. The developer says it is looking for partners and will decide next year whether to change its timetable.