Signet Development officially broke ground this week on a 160,000 square foot, $35 million six-story building in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that will house University of New Mexico (UNM) students studying in entrepreneurial education programs.
Called Lobo Rainforest, the project represents the first phase of Innovate ABQ, located in the planned innovation district in downtown Albuquerque. The project is scheduled for completion in August 2017.
“We get really excited with these projects,” Anthony (Tony) Manna, Signet founder and chairman, said. “Signet’s business philosophy here is to work with entrepreneurial partners to spur economic development. When we can help create another generation of entrepreneurs with student innovation hubs like this, it is exactly what we envisioned. We get tremendous satisfaction out of creating living-learning communities that will have an impact on the future.”
In addition to UNM, key project team members include Dekker/Perich/Sabatini architects and Jaynes Companies’ construction group. Signet will own and develop the facility through a lease arrangement with UNM, who will manage and operate the facility.
Along with student apartments, the facility will be home to UNM’s Innovation Academy and several business startup organizations working to develop the university’s technologies, including Innovate New Mexico and STC.UNM’s Joseph L. Cecchi VentureLab business incubator. Other tenants will include the Air Force Research Laboratory and various retail outlets.
The project provides students and the wider community with meeting rooms, collaboration spaces and a café, as well as access to cutting-edge equipment and technology. The residence portion of facility will house over 300 students.
Signet Development, which has decades of experience in student housing projects, opened doors on another innovation project with the University of Florida in Gainesville last year.
“Every project is unique and innovative,” said Jason Perry, Signet Development’s Managing Director, who coordinated the project for Signet. “The University of New Mexico had their vision coming in and we partnered together on a unique solution. The bottom line is that UNM students now get an extraordinary opportunity to move their ideas from the classroom to the real world in one setting. UNM has been a great partner.”
Signet CEO Ken Krismanth says this innovation model allows Signet to take an active role in not only the project’s development, but also its long-term success in the community and beyond. “At the end of the day, we’re looking for opportunities to invest in and support, and not just in terms of dollars. We want to foster the growth of ideas and startups, and we want to invest in them.”