In 1998 Western Michigan University received proposals from the cities of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek for locating and constructing a new classroom and research building for the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and for relocating the paper pilot plant housed in McCracken Hall. The Battle Creek proposal placed the new facilities near the existing WMU School of Aviation Sciences in Battle Creek.
The city of Kalamazoo proposal, which President Elson S. Floyd accepted, located the new facilities on the University's Lee Baker Farm. A portion of the land was to be developed as a research and technology park with research ties to the University, and the Asylum Lake property to the north would be reserved for passive recreation uses.
Plans for developing the Lee Baker Farm were quite extensive. The site had no usable existing utilities or roads. The city committed to improving the local access to the site; the anticipated increase in traffic required the upgrade and widening of Parkview Avenue and Drake Road.
In order to minimize the environmental impact on the adjacent neighborhoods, the university committed to "buffering" development of the property with 70 acres of no-build zone between the campus and the Parkview residential neighborhood. The university also committed to minimizing 'light pollution', enforcing environmentally responsible landscaping standards, and collecting and filtering all stormwater runoff before allowing it to drain into the watershed.