UNH Interoperability Lab may realize move to downtown Durham
A site plan proposal presented to the planning board Jan. 8 by Golden Goose Development for the Madbury Commons project now includes changes to accommodate 35,000 square feet of space for the IOL and related commercial opportunities.
The Madbury Commons project will include additional commercial space as well as student housing on upper levels. The current proposed number of beds is 525.
They transformed what would have been underground parking on the first floor to create contiguous office space for the IOL and have inserted a loading dock facility into the plans to accommodate the lab’s delivery requirements.
The entrance way to the IOL will be on the Pettee Brook side of the building, crossing a new footbridge from the public parking lot onto the property.
Durham Administrator Todd Selig said the project received variances and zoning board approval for plans that included about 17 percent of non-residential space, and this increases that.
The Golden Goose representative said one of the main reasons they have been able to make this work is collaboration between the town and the university on a multi-pronged solution to parking.
About 20 spaces will be added along Strafford Avenue for business permit parking, 20 spaces will be added along Garrison Avenue that will be both metered and business permit parking and there are ongoing discussions about adding about 13 spaces along the side of Madbury Road on which parking is not currently permitted.
“If we were to reinstate parking on that side of the road we would need to come up with another solution for the bicycle issue,” Selig said.
Marc Sedam, executive director of UNH Innovation, said right now visitors to the IOL have no reason to visit downtown Durham. Many of them stay in Portsmouth, drive to the IOL around downtown, and when they are done, go back to Portsmouth.
Sedam said he will feel more confident about the project once the lease is signed and the details are ironed out.
The IOL, 100 percent funded by the corporate partners they work with, recently celebrated 25 years in operation.
“The needs for the customers who use the IOL are only growing and that’s a good thing. That allows us to consider this move,” Sedam said.
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