Arizona State University plans to lease much of the Brickyard on Mill complex in downtown Tempe so it can centralize its computer science programs, spur technology-based research and generate a presence in downtown Tempe.
The ASU Institute for Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering, scheduled to open in August, would occupy parts of four floors of the prominent building at 699 S. Mill Ave. — a total of 130,000 square feet of space, officials announced Tuesday.
The Arizona Board of Regents must approve the five-year lease with the option to extend to 15 years at their meeting in Tucson later this week.
If the board does, ASU will spend about $7 million to prepare the building. Starting in 2005, the university would pay about $2.9 million a year in rent.
The Institute for Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering at the Brickyard on Mill will free up space on ASU's cramped campus and save time and money, Harrison said.
"If we were to build this building, it would take at least two years to get it designed and built — and that's moving it on the fast track," Harrison said. "This way, I'm going to have it ready in five months. It really saves us a lot."
The institute will cast a wide net of influence on Arizona State University. More and more, the university is counting on funds and grants generated through world-class research involving computer sciences — whether it comes from the biology, art or geosciences departments, said Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the institute.
The institute also fits into ASU's plan to better influence the community. It will fill empty space in downtown Tempe and reach out to researchers throughout the Valley, including the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Panchanathan said.
"We really want to be plugged into the community and solve problems that are meaningful to the community," he said.
"We don't want to be this nerd group doing something that people cannot relate to," he said. "We want to be highly visible."
Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano said he's excited to fill the space with a "concentration of quality employees." The institute will house the Computer Science Engineering Department's 45 faculty members and about 1,850 students involved in the Computer Science Engineering Department.
Tempe is working to create a downtown environment that draws knowledgeable and creative workers to "live, work and play."
"This is just a recognition of the fact that the environment we've created in downtown Tempe will be very positive for that set of employees," Giuliano said.
Renting the Brickyard on Mill is one of two projects designed to blur the line between ASU's campus and downtown Tempe. The university also hopes to have firm plans in place in the next six months on a 10-acre redevelopment project on the southeast corner of University Drive and Mill Avenue.
The area will serve as a gateway between the campus and downtown. It could house a new facility for the W.P. Carey School of Business and the College of Fine Arts, retail space near Mill Avenue and possibly a hotel, said Mernoy Harrison, ASU's executive vice president for administration and finance.