Innovation campus rendering

A rendering of the MSU Innovation Campus, which is in the development phase of a 42-acre research park. The project aims to provide a walkable campus with office and laboratory buildings, high-speed internet, pathways, water features, and bike and walking trails.

The developer behind several commercial properties around Gallatin County and the recently proposed airport plaza project has been selected to begin building elements of Montana State University’s Innovation Campus, the company announced this week.

Connecticut-based Charter Realty & Development broke ground on the first building of the planned tech park — a 20,000-square-foot applied research facility — earlier this month. Charter is part of Innovation Campus Partners, a limited liability company based in Big Sky overseeing the development of the Innovation Campus. The campus is not owned by the university but by a separate nonprofit fundraising arm, the MSU Alumni Foundation.

As proposed, the 42-acre research park includes more than a dozen potential buildings, including specialized labs, research offices and manufacturing spaces. The goal of the campus, according to its website, is “to strengthen the research capability of MSU and to expand the commercialization of technology related to MSU’s clusters of academic and research excellence.”

“Working with the MSU Innovation Campus team has allowed our group to fully understand the goals and needs of the local research community and has enabled us to create a framework and a strategy to achieve those goals over the long term,” Charter principal Dan Zelson said in a release.

Martel Construction and A&E Architects will also assist with the applied research lab, which is projected for completion in early 2019.

In August, Charter submitted plans to develop more than 50 acres of former mining pit land just south of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport into a mixed-use complex complete with hotels, restaurants and retail businesses.

Meanwhile, the fate of the handful of companies currently inhabiting the Innovation Campus (previously named the Advanced Technology Park) remains up in the air. This summer, executives at several tech companies voiced concern that their landlord, Advanced Technology Inc., a subsidiary of the MSU Alumni Foundation, planned to move businesses out and replace them with MSU offices.

University officials had previously suggested relocating the companies to office space within the Innovation Campus.

Kendall can be reached at 406-582-2651 or lkendall@dailychronicle.com. He is on Twitter at @lewdak

Lewis Kendall covers business and the economy for the Chronicle.

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