ASU, Catellus partner to develop mixed-use athletic district

October 8, 2014

Arizona State University has announced its selection of Catellus Development Corporation as master developer for the ASU Athletic Facilities District, a unique, mixed-use development on 330 acres at the northeast end of ASU’s Tempe campus.

The district, envisioned as a model for creative urban neighborhood design and sustainable development, will be enlivened by its proximity to the nation’s largest public research university, a vibrant downtown Tempe and major collegiate and amateur sports venues. The development will supply a revenue stream for university athletics facilities at ASU. stack of The District booklets Download Full Image

“With a strong partner in the City of Tempe, a unique location and the unlimited potential of the young men and women who graduate from ASU every year, this project should be one of the most attractive sites for development in the nation,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “We look forward to working with Catellus and leaders throughout the city and the region to build out this vital new part of Tempe.”

Originating from legislation passed by the state legislature in 2010 to create special revenue districts on land owned by state-supported universities, the district will provide financial returns to the university while delivering significant, tangible economic impact for the City of Tempe. The 2010 legislation authorizes such districts to impose an assessment, in lieu of property taxes, to be used to construct and improve intercollegiate athletic facilities. ASU is the first state university to act on this opportunity.

Catellus, based in Oakland, California, brings to the district more than 30 years experience as a master developer in projects across the country. The company has transformed former airports, military bases and urban industrial sites into thriving retail, residential and commercial communities.

“This is an amazing opportunity and an outstanding piece of real estate in an extremely visionary city,” said Ted Antenucci, CEO of Catellus. “What makes it even better is the kind of partners we have in ASU and the City of Tempe. ASU is on the cutting edge of sustainability education, giving us the chance to set an even higher standard for the sustainable planning and building practices that have long been a fundamental component of how Catellus develops."

Antenucci said Catellus expects more partners to emerge locally and nationally.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of this with such a dynamic university partner, and we expect other local and national developers to play a role in helping this project evolve over the next 20 years,” Antenucci said.

The district will boast unparalleled transportation access, being 1.5 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, the fifth busiest airport in the country; a quarter-mile from a full interchange of the Loop 202 Freeway; adjacent to the Loop 101 Freeway and fully developed adjacent arterial street systems, and easily accessible via the Valley’s 20-mile-long light rail system.

The selection of Catellus comes after a two-year process that included requests for qualifications, business plans and multiple interviews with potential developers.

“We’ve worked diligently for the past two years with the close counsel of our partners at the City of Tempe to select the right development partner,” said Morgan R. Olsen, ASU’s executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. “Catellus has an outstanding track record, and its values are aligned with ours on issues of sustainability, social and environmental value, and urban development. With their help, the district will be an asset not just for the university, but also a major employment and economic development asset for Tempe and the Valley.”

The next steps will involve careful study and planning, according to both Catellus and ASU.

John Creer, ASU assistant vice president for university real estate development, said the district development will be a long-term project over the next 10 to 20 years, with the potential for seven to 11 million gross square feet of development. He said expectations are for a mixed-use district that will include multifamily residences, commercial development and service retail. The first step will be a public planning process over the next six to nine months.

“We have a long way to go, and this is just the beginning,” Creer said. “No decisions have been made about what happens or where things go. What comes first is studying the infrastructure needs of this large piece of property and understanding the market conditions of what is possible. We will have a public planning process with meetings, open houses and community engagement – it’s going to be a collaborative process.”

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said the district offers Tempe an opportunity unlike any other in the Valley.

“Today marks the beginning of a new and exciting opportunity for the City of Tempe,” Mitchell said. “The investments we’ve made in this community, our partnership with this world-class research university and the proximity of the district to Tempe Town Lake make this a project with unparalleled potential. We welcome Catellus and look forward to working together for many years into the future.”

ASU engineer earns NSF award for imaging technology research

October 8, 2014

Vikram Kodibagkar’s progress in engineering tools and techniques to more precisely reveal the condition of body tissues, specifically tissue oxygen levels, has earned support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

He’s the recipient of an NSF CAREER award, which recognizes emerging education and research leaders in engineering and science. The award provides $440,000 over five years to fund Kodibagkar’s work to expand the capabilities of medical imaging technology. The project will also help provide research and educational opportunities for students. Kodibagkar biomedical research Download Full Image

Kodibagkar is an assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona Sate University. His focus is on developing techniques using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to perform oximetry – measuring the amount of oxygen in body tissue.

Hypoxia, or lack of oxygenation – due to impaired delivery of oxygen to tissue and/or increased oxygen consumption by tissue cells – can be a sign of disease or injury, such as cancer, stroke or traumatic brain damage.

“What we are trying to do is figure out how damaged or diseased tissue will change, either by itself or in response to specific therapies,” he said. “And we want to do this early on in the onset of disease through noninvasive prognostic imaging.”

One of Kodibagkar’s research goals is to “develop a theoretical framework for methods that would enable us to extract quantitative information about tissue oxygenation from MRI data,” he said.

“That would allow us, for example, to compare changes that occur in a tumor over time or in response to treatment. You could potentially look at its condition in the early stages of a disease and predict what will happen from that point on. This would give you the basis for planning an effective medical treatment,” he explained.

He’ll pursue this objective by using two novel oximetry techniques he has developed. One technique involves binding a small molecular MRI contrast agent (a chemical compound) that targets specific areas of the body. The other involves examining changes in the MRI properties of a nanoprobe to determine oxygen levels.

He will also work on further developing methods of delivering and distributing the molecular agent and the nanoprobe to targeted areas so they can provide MRI imaging that gives accurate information about oxygenation.

Studies are providing increasing evidence that tumors have high concentrations of hypoxic cells – cells that are inadequately oxygenated. The severity of hypoxia can be a strong factor in predicting the progression of disease, particularly cancer.

The potential effectiveness of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and photodynamic therapy to treat cancer can often be determined by knowing the various levels of concentrations of hypoxic cells. For instance, Kodibagkar said, hypoxia in solid tumors can make those tumors resistant to some anticancer drugs, and the use of a single drug may be ineffective, or worse, leave behind a malignant subpopulation of tumor cells.

He wants to produce more accurate evaluations of tumor oxygenation to provide a better understanding of how particular tumors would respond to different therapeutic combinations, potentially enabling therapy to be tailored to characteristics of the conditions of individual patients.

The NSF CAREER award also will aid Kodibagkar’s efforts to increase involvement of ASU graduate students in lab work related to his research, and to establish a hands-on training program in imaging technologies, to be called HOSPIT, for high school students and undergraduates.

“Powerful imaging tools are emerging that are expanding career options in the field, but there are very few opportunities for younger students to be exposed to this,” Kodibagkar says.

For that training, he plans to use two instruments – a commercial bench-top MRI machine and “shoebox fluorescent imaging system” – the latter designed and constructed by Kodibagkar for a course he co-taught with Karmella Haynes and Sarah Stabenfeldt, fellow assistant professors in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering.

His plan is to use the training programs as the basis for developing more extensive courses in medical imaging, including courses that could be offered online. The first trial of HOSPIT training program was successfully conducted this summer with five high school students.

Beyond that, he hopes an online education component will aid efforts to recruit students from around the world to college programs offering advanced education in medical imaging – particularly prospective students in underdeveloped countries where medical imaging expertise is especially needed.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering