Center for Research and Development still looking for tenants

Hollan Holm

The old Bowling Green Mall will be ready to assume its new identity as the WKU Center for Research and Development by the end of the month.

Chief Financial Officer Ann Mead said that approximately 6,000 square feet in the building will be filled by four tenants by October.

Mead said repairs to the mall’s roof and other construction work have been delayed by summer rains. Work on the Applied Physics Institute and the Material Characterization Center is still in the design stage.

Western purchased the old mall last September with a $2.3 million New Economy grant from the state. The mall property is divided between the university and the College Heights Foundation.

The foundation controls the leases to approximately six parcels of land near the mall, said Tom Hiles, vice president for Institutional Advancement. Four of the six parcels are ready for use.

“We’ve allocated about $400,000 for engineering work for the out parcels,” Hiles said.

The foundation is willing to sell or lease out parcels to interested businesses, Hiles said, and money raised by the out parcels will be used for further renovations to the center.

Hiles would not name any prospective tenants.

The Center will be a new home for Bowling Green freshmen Chris and Clinton Mills.

The brothers were recently given full scholarships to Western for entrepreneurship and a 4-year lease in the center for their Internet advertising company

“It’s a great opportunity getting our first office and not paying bills,” Clinton Mills said.

Once the brothers move out of their home setup and into their 2,300-square foot office suite, Clinton Mills said their frame of mind will be more centered on business.

He said he and his brother will also be able to meet clients on home turf in Bowling Green. Before, while working from their home, the pair would have to go to their client’s place of business to pitch their services.

Another tenant in the Center will be the Central Region Innovation and Commercialization Center, one of a network of six non-profit organizations set up to encourage growth of science and technology companies across the state.

“We are here to build businesses and create jobs in this region,” Buddy Steen, executive director of the Central Region ICC, said in an e-mail.

Administrators expect the ICC to encourage development in the building.

“We think the ICC might send potential tenants to WKU, and we think we will send potential clients to the ICC,” Mead said in an e-mail. “It’s going to be a very productive partnership.”

Reach Hollan Holm at [email protected]