Aaron Olver

WSJ Feature Article: University Research Park wants to add coffee shops, companies and camaraderie

Change is afoot at University Research Park — at least, if the park’s leaders and tenants have their way — and it could urbanize the sprawling tech-transfer center into a place where you can buy a cup of coffee, grab lunch or play a game of racquetball.

“We want to evolve … so we stay fresh,” said the park’s managing director, Aaron Olver.

Today, some of the area’s most illustrious biotech companies — such as stem cell manufacturer Cellular Dynamics International and cancer test developer Exact Sciences Corp. — are tenants. So are dozens of startups, as well as law firms, banks and two child-care centers.

“Our tenants want more coffee shops, they want walkability. We can make University Research Park more innovative by doing this,” Olver said. “We are on the hunt now for food and beverage and fitness operations that want to establish in the park.”

They want to add buildings, including possibly homes and apartments, and a hotel. Olver said walking paths, benches and public art could be added, too.