UPDATED: VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System signs lease for 24,600-square-foot space in U-M's NCRC
Editor's note: This story was updated with additional information, including the cost of the lease agreement, at 5:20 p.m.
The Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System has signed an $866,574, multi-year lease agreement for research space in the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex, officials announced Monday.
The VA’s Center for Clinical Management Research - which includes about 150 researchers - will soon be moving into a 24,600-square-foot space that the organization has leased in at NCRC's in the newly-founded Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.
Courtesy of the University of Michigan
The goal of the institute is to take an interdisciplinary approach to make health care better, safer and more cost-effective. About half of the researchers are from the U-M Medical School, and one-quarter are from the U-M School of Public Health.
Building 16 is a six-story building, with the lowest floor committed to a fitness facility and conference room space. The VA holds the only lease for space in the building, as the rest is occupied by researchers affiliated with U-M, said Joan Keiser, a director at NCRC.
The lease with the VA for the office space in Building 16 is an important one: It marks all of NCRC’s large free-standing office buildings as fully occupied, Keiser said.
“There’s a lot of pressure on office space here,” Keiser said. “We’ve used up pretty much anything on the campus that’s not associated with laboratories.”
Buildings at NCRC with combined lab and office space still have vacancies, Keiser said.
Overall, the Institute consists of about 400 researchers from U-M and beyond - including the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. The Institute has yet to appoint a director and is managed by a group of eight faculty members led by interim director Dr. Rod Hayward.
The signing of the lease agreement cements the relationship between the VA and and U-M, officials have said.
The NCRC submitted a bid to the federal government detailing the amenities of the space in Building 16, including parking, as well as an inclusive $35.21-per-square-foot rate, said Derek Atkinson, spokesman for the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.
The government has accepted the bid NCRC submitted, which for the NCRC’s purposes signifies a lease as being signed, Keiser said. The agreement begins with a five-year fixed lease term, with the opportunity for five additional years on a year-by-year renewal rate.
However, the exact amount of square feet that the lease will entail has yet to be determined, and will be a maximum of 24,600 square feet, Keiser said.
“The dollar amount will be finalized in the coming days,” Keiser said.
Should the VA use all 24,600 square feet available, the VA would pay NCRC $866,574 per year for the space, Atkinson said. The rent payment would come out of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System’s operating budget.
Currently, the VA’s Center for Clinical Management Research occupies about 20,000 square feet of space at the VA Ann Arbor Hospital, Kerr said.
The movement of the VA researchers to the new U-M location will free up space in the VA Hospital at 2215 Fuller Road in Ann Arbor for additional patient care.
The NCRC had responded to the Dept. of Veteran's Affairs bid request -- and the VA selected the office building on the NCRC complex out of all the bids it received.
The market for the space at the NCRC building is highly competitive, Kerr said.
“I know there was a lot of interest in this space,” Kerr said. “This is going to be the largest university-based institute for health policy research in the country.”
Unlike the other lab research areas of the NCRC — a former Pfizer complex acquired by U-M in 2009 — the Institute is housed in a building with mostly office space.
The Center for Clinical Management Research will occupy about a floor and a half of space in the five-story office building at NCRC, Kerr said. VA researchers will be moving into the space in the next several months.
The nature of the Institute for Health Policy and Innovation research is not clinical, but does require secure servers for researchers to analyze data.
Most of the investigators at the Center for Clinical Management Research are also faculty at the University of Michigan, Kerr said. Researchers split their time between doing research at the VA and at U-M, Kerr said.
Many researchers are focused on mental health issues for veterans — especially when it comes to suicide.
“Many of our researchers are working through those risk factors and working with our leaders in Washington D.C.,” Kerr said.
In addition to promoting new policies when it comes to veterans’ health, the researchers also inspire changes in health care that veterans receive at hospitals, Kerr said. The collaborative, synergistic nature of the environment at the Institute is a good fit for the VA researchers, Kerr said.