Town Center at North Fork Research Park Opens for Business

The opening of Town Center One at the University of Virginia Research Park at North Fork last week brings the University of Virginia Foundation a step closer to fulfilling its goal — developing a sense of community in a town atmosphere.

Town Center One is the first building to be completed in the Town Center, which is planned to be a pedestrian-friendly environment that promotes collaboration with research endeavors at the University. The park was designed with a center square and indigenous plants in the landscaping to encourage a sense of place and community. The master plan for the park, created by the Charlottesville-based firm Mitchell/Matthews Architects and the Maryland firm Duany Plater Zyberk & Co., includes cafes, restaurants, banks, conference facilities and a hotel in the town center.

The U.Va. Foundation welcomed its first Town Center residents on Sept. 22, when QualChoice of Virginia began its move to the research park. QualChoice will complete its move on Sept. 29. The research park occupies 562 acres about eight miles north of the University near the Charottesville-Albemarle Airport.

“Our mission for the parks has been geared towards recruiting tenants that have strong ties with U.Va. As a tenant in our first Town Center building, QualChoice fits very well into this new vision for development in Charlottesville.”

Tim Rose, CEO, UVA Foundation

The move allows QualChoice to consolidate its operations, which are currently housed at two separate locations and to allow for growth.

“We are excited about this wonderful opportunity,” Marty D’Erasmo, CEO of QualChoice, said. “The chance to streamline our operations while enhancing our relationship with a major shareholder is perfect.”

The University of Virginia, U.Va.’s Health Services Foundation, and Martha Jefferson Hospital jointly own Blue Ridge Health Alliance Inc., the parent company of QualChoice, a health maintenance organization with more than 114,000 subscribers in Central Virginia.

QualChoice will occupy more than 50,000 square feet on the first, second and third floors of the 70,000-square-foot building. The building was designed by the Northern Virginia architectural firm Davis, Carter, Scott.

QualChoice will not be alone for long at Town Center One. Catapult InfoSolutions LLC, a consulting company providing information software applications and advice to colleges and universities, plans to occupy 1,000 square feet. Catapult InfoSolutions counts the U.Va.’s law school’s Law Review among its clients. The company is scheduled to move to North Fork in October.

“We feel our proximity to established businesses, other entrepreneurs, and the University creates a compelling environment where ideas will be freely exchanged, lessons shared and opportunities created that could not exist in other business settings,” Christopher Meade, a Catapult partner, said. “We see North Fork as both a good location to meet our business objectives and a great work environment nestled within the natural beauty of Virginia’s foothills.”

In early 2001 the company expects to be joined by the nine-person Charlottesville office of the not-for-profit Battelle Memorial Institute, based in Columbus, Ohio. Battelle serves industry and government in developing new technologies. Its Charlottesville office will focus on computer modeling for scientific researchers, polymer prototyping, research in biological issues and environmental monitoring. The office intends to occupy approximately 6,000 square feet.

“Everyone at Battelle anticipates that the U.Va. Research Park at North Fork will provide a wonderful place for cultivating partnerships among the businesses there and with the University,” said Paul Moruza, acting director of Battelle’s Charlottesville operations. “We are very excited about working there and we have had very positive reactions from our R&D clients when we tell them about the move.”

“Building a community is an important component of the Town Center,” Bruce Stouffer, director of real estate development for the U.Va. Foundation, said. “Not only are we interested in fostering relations with U.Va., but also between the various companies and the people who work there.”

In the spring of 1999, with the completion of a mile-long portion of Lewis & Clark Drive, the main road into the park, the first phase of infrastructure construction was completed. At that time a major landscaping project was also completed, including plantings and a finely crafted stone wall at the U.S. 29 entry, and the transplanting of more than 3,000 trees from future building sites within the park to areas along Lewis & Clark Drive. In developing the park, the U.Va. Foundation has been sensitive to environmental issues of the site, Rose said.

QualChoice, Catapult InfoSolutions LLC and Battelle join Motion Control Industries Inc., MicroAire Surgical Instruments Co. Inc., and Pharmaceutical Research Associates (PRA) as residents in park.

Via UVA News