Innovation Depot

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The Innovation Depot under construction in February 2007. Photo by ₪ ÇP ₪

The Innovation Depot is a combined facility for the City of Birmingham's Entrepreneurial Center and UAB's Office for the Advancement of Developing Industries (OADI). The two centers have worked together under the Entrepreneurial Center's management since 2001. The new facility is located in the former Sears store on the block between 1st and 2nd Avenue North and 12th and 13th Streets was gutted and renovated at a cost of $17 million for the center. The architects for the renovation were Williams-Blackstock with Brice Building Company as the general contractor and Brantley Visioneering as the construction manager.

The name "Innovation Depot" was chosen to reflect its proximity to Birmingham's Railroad Reservation, the "incubator" of industrial development in the late 19th century. The 145,000 square-foot facility is expected to houses as many as 65 small businesses and employ as many as 300 workers. The center will focus on biotechnology start-ups and will have 20,000 square feet of wet laboratory space and a shared equipment lab with an autoclave, centrifuge, low-temperature freezer and micro-optics.

The Innovation Depot will serve as an anchor for the city's proposed "Entrepreneurial District", which is reflected in the 2004 City Center Master Plan. According to the plan, the Innovation Depot will be connected across the Railroad Reservation and midtown to the UAB campus by a "green street" on 14th Street South which will pass through the proposed Railroad Reservation Park. The entire district will have a special overlay zoning to encourage entrepreneurial activity as an engine for dense mid-rise urban development.

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