The University of Delaware’s STAR Tower has reached its final height after nearly eight months of construction.
At a topping off ceremony Tuesday morning, state, university and city officials autographed the final steel beam and then watched as workers used a crane to lift it into place, signifying the completion of the building’s frame.
“This is the latest star in the UD crown,” UD President Dennis Assanis said. “Just imagine this tower, which will soon be filled with a bustling mix of students, researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, clinicians and the community. Everybody will come together in an environment that fosters collaboration.”
At 10 stories tall, the tower dominates the south Newark skyline and is the third-highest building in the city, dwarfed only by UD’s two Christiana Towers. It is slated for completion by Aug. 1, 2018.
The $40 million project is being built by Delle Donne and Associates, which has development rights for a 16-acre portion of the STAR Campus. The company’s first building on the site is occupied primarily by UD’s College of Health Sciences, as well as commercial tenants, including SevOne, Independence Prosthetics, Glasgow Medical Aid Unit and the Delaware Technology Park business incubator.
The College of Health Sciences will lease floors two through seven of the tower, using the space for a simulation lab, sleep lab, audiology lab, cardiovascular lab and a health care innovation lab, as well as office space and other facilities for researchers.
The first floor will include an auditorium, a demonstration kitchen and two commercial spaces, which will likely be occupied by a restaurant, coffee shop or fitness facility. Commercial tenants — which officials hope will include companies that supplement what UD is doing at the site — will fill out the top three floors.
Ernie Delle Donne said Tuesday he knows of approximately 10 companies that have inquired about space in the tower, but leases won’t be signed until after Jan. 1.
Gov. John Carney said the tower — and the collaboration it will foster — is an example of the way the state needs to adjust to the changing economy.
No longer can the state rely on large manufacturing sites such as the Chrysler Assembly Plant that once stood at the site of the STAR Campus, he said. Instead, the jobs of the future will be created by small firms like the ones that will occupy the tower.
“When you think of all the things happening in our state in this new economy, this is ground zero for us,” Carney said. “This is where we’re really going to move the needle and create jobs.”
While the STAR Campus is still in its infancy, UD officials envision a future for the site as an urban-inspired campus centered around a new transportation hub and featuring research and development space surrounded by parks, restaurants, residential units, retail stores and a hotel.
“The STAR Campus is a field of dreams,” Assanis said. “It’s a place where we’re building the university of tomorrow that will be solving the world’s challenges.”
The university has not announced the next phase of development, but Assanis hinted Tuesday that more construction is on the way.
“There will be more groundbreakings and more topping off parties and, of course, more ribbon cuttings in the next few months,” he told the crowd gathered in the shadow of the tower. “I’m not going to say more today; we want you to come back.”
The city of Newark’s planning department is expecting plans for the next two STAR Campus buildings to be submitted later this summer or in early fall. UD spokeswoman Andrea Boyle said the buildings will be located elsewhere on the sprawling 272-acre site, but would not provide further details.
Delle Donne said he already planning for the next project on his portion of the site, but does not expect to make a decision until next year.
The type and size of the building will be “market-driven,” he said. A research or medical building would likely be shorter, he said, but a building combining retail space and apartments could rival the height of the tower.