Tek Park Technology Hub is ‘Sailing Into the Future’

By Nicole Radzievich Mertz on October 28, 2022

Tek Park includes a hallway, dubbed the Spine, that connects buildings housing well-known companies such as Broadcom and Aesculap Implant Systems, a medical device company.

The below story was featured in the Q2 issue of the Lehigh Valley Commercial & Industrial Real Estate Report, the digital version of which can be found here. The third quarter issue will be released in the upcoming weeks and will be available on the LVEDC website

Obscured by a bustling Route 222, just outside Allentown, Pennsylvania’s third largest city, looms a technology hub appropriately named Tek Park. Buttressed by rolling hills and farms, the bucolic campus features a collection of glass-and-brick buildings connected by a sun-filled hallway called the “Spine.” An over-hanging floor, lined with a thick metal railing, spans the Spine. It is meant to look like the deck of a ship.

Sailing into the future.

About 35 years ago, this 137-acre park was designed to reflect the Lehigh Valley’s future as part of the Silicon Revolution. It was the world headquarters of AT&T Optoelectronic, where subsidiary Bell Labs developed circuits and devices for light-wave transmission. AT&T has long left that venture, but the campus remains a consequential – if not fully utilized — place for innovation.

Broadcom is now an anchor tenant. Aesculap Biologics and Aesculap Implant Systems, members of the B. Braun family of companies, develop medical devices and biologics for orthopedic and spine clinical indications. TierPoint operates a large data center at the campus, providing managed services such as private cloud, disaster recovery and security solutions. There’s room for more. More than 60% of the 514,000-square-foot facility is occupied.

“Tek Park has a rich legacy and heritage in the Lehigh Valley. It is a unique property that was built to support the semi-conductor industry and has evolved to house other interesting uses,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation President (LVEDC).

“Tek Park offers existing space that can be adapted for light manufacturing, wet labs, and offices. This is an asset in a time when industrial demand has hit new heights and the life sciences, in particular, are poised to grow and expand in the region.”

The Lehigh Valley is among the busiest industrial markets in America. Within a day’s drive of a third of the population and access to rail, the Lehigh Valley has grown its industrial footprint by 15% in five years to 144 million square feet, and the pandemic has only intensified the demand. While many large buildings are constructed speculatively for the growing logistics sector, the Lehigh Valley commands a strong presence in manufacturing – among the top 50 markets in America.

A majority of the LVEDC’s industrial prospects are manufacturers seeking buildings with a median space requirement of 50,000 square feet. But buildings with smaller footprints have low vacancy rates and few new ones are under construction, making existing space like that at Tek Park very attractive, Cunningham said.

Tek Park, 9999 Hamilton Boulevard in Upper Macungie Township, has about 150,000 square feet for lease. It can be partitioned for multiple tenants for light manufacturing, offices, or research.

Other TEK Park tenants include EMD Electronics, Forward Thinking Technology Solutions, Pennsylvania Department of General Services, and the Hayden Films Institute.

The buildings are serviced by redundant utilities, appealing to high tech companies. The buildings are fed by a double ended substation and several buildings are connected to onsite wastewater services. The campus has access to hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen required in many labs.

“Built by AT&T and Bell Labs, this campus is well suited for technology companies,” said Rod Strohm, who stepped down as director of operations at Tek Park in July. “The main structure sits high on a hill, away from the highway and the semi-tractor trailers, and a large portion is vibration proof – its footings go into the granite.”

The location in western Lehigh County had been selected in the mid-1980s by AT&T amid a fierce technology competition with Japan. The Lehigh Valley was chosen because of its proximity to research and development facilities in Murray Hill, N.J., and AT&T manufacturing plants in Allentown and Reading at the time.

Originally branded the Solid State Technology Center of AT&T; Bell Labs, the reported $85 million campus opened in 1988 to much fanfare. AT&T spun off its telecommunications and equipment business in 1996, passing the property to Lucent Technologies and then its spinoff, Agere Systems. In 2003, TriQuint Semiconductor bought Agere’s optics division and inherited the campus.

TriQuint in 2005 sold the operations of its optoelectronics division to CyOptics and the Upper Macungie campus to MRA Group, which built its reputation primarily as a health care real estate firm. MRA developed the property for single-tenant sites of 50,000 square feet or less and landed tenants including Aesculap. CyOptics expanded its existing local operation into Tek Park. Avago acquired CyOptics in 2013 and in 2016 completed the purchase of Broadcom Corp., forming Broadcom LTD. In 2012 the entire campus was purchased by 9999 Hamilton Associates L.P., which currently owns and manages the property. About 450 people work at TEK Park today.

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