GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Only two years after Michigan State University’s Grand Rapids Medical Research Center opened, a major expansion promises to help speed up the time between research and innovations reaching patients.
When the new building on Michigan Avenue NW opens in 2021, the Medical Mile health care corridor will stretch essentially uninterrupted from east of College Avenue all the way to Monroe Avenue.
“What you’re seeing is Grand Rapids being a hub for new innovations,” said Jen Boezwinkle of Rockford Construction.
The West Michigan construction giant was part of the team that helped create the Research Center when it replaced the former Grand Rapids Press Building in 2017. The building houses research into cures for Parkinson’s disease and cancer and treatments for gynecological maladies.
The expansion plan was put forward by Health Innovation Partners, a real estate development joint venture between MB Real Estate, Walsh Construction/Walsh Investors, Rockford Construction and Michigan State University.
The new building will be six to eight stories tall and 200,000 square feet with a 600-car parking garage. It will include some research and a lot of office space that will create hundreds of jobs both during the construction phase and when the building is completed.
“New technology, new research, new innovation, new discoveries are really happening very quickly,” Boezwinkle said.
But moving from innovation to the marketplace can be slow. The expanded facility is meant to foster public-private partnerships, bringing together the research and development with the commercialization.
“The goal really is to speed up that process and bring new discoveries, new devices, new treatments to market in a faster way,” Boezwinkle said.
MSU and Health Innovation Partners say they’re talking with potential tenants focused on cancer research, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, artificial intelligence and medical device development. Developers are not saying exactly what institutions will have offices in the building, but Spectrum Health is a good bet.
“We see a mix of companies and other health care providers being involved,” Boezwinkle said.
Developers expect to break ground on the project this fall. The center is expected to open in late 2021.
Once it’s finished, there are more plans in the works to develop a plot of land along Monroe Avenue NW between Michigan Street and the I-196 overpass. The plan, developers say, is to create what they call an “innovation park.”