April 23, 2014

Qimonda to move out of Williston

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By Ben Moger-Williams
Observer staff

Despite town and private efforts to keep it in Williston, the technology company Qimonda is moving its offices to South Burlington at the end of this year, according to a company spokesperson.

Qimonda will begin relocating to a newly constructed 70,000-square-foot office building in Technology Park – about three miles from its current location – at the end of 2007 and into early 2008, confirmed Tim McKenzie, Technology Park’s business development director.

Qimonda operates a research and development facility in Hillside East, a business park on Hurricane Lane. The company recently decided to grow and hire about 30 engineers this year – and possibly more next year – but there was no more room in the Williston location, the company said.

“We have an open requisition for 30 new employees at that site, and the current facility is just not going to hold them,” said Donna Wilson, director of communication for Qimonda North America.

Wilson said depending how the market goes, the company will likely hire about 30 more engineers next year after the move. Qimonda’s “ Burlington Design Center,” as it is known, designs Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) modules that are used in cell phones, mp3 players and GPS devices. Wilson said the market is hot and getting hotter.

“Given our business ramp we need to bring those people on board now,” she said.

PLANS CHANGE

Over the past year, Bill Dunn, owner of Hillside East, has worked with the town to try and expand the business park to keep Qimonda in Williston. Last year Dunn asked the town to rezone 55 acres of land that he owns just north of the park to accommodate a new facility for the company. The area was originally zoned as agricultural/rural, and could not be used for a commercial site. After a series of hearings, the town approved changes to the Comprehensive Plan that nudge the commercial zoning district northward to include a revised area of 12 acres, while requiring Dunn to permanently conserve the remaining 43 acres. But Dunn still had to draw up detailed site plans to present to the Development Review Board, and faced the daunting Act 250 permit process. Dunn said Qimonda simply could not hold out any longer.

“That’s a long, drawn-out process,” Dunn said in a telephone interview. “And Qimonda unfortunately just couldn’t wait.”

Dunn said the recent discovery of wetlands on his property is holding up the process further. But, he said he will continue with the permitting process, and hopes to construct a building on the new site in the near future – for a new client. Dunn said he is “talking to a couple of people” about moving into Qimonda’s space, but did not elaborate.

“I’m going to go ahead with the permitting of the site until I hit an obstacle I cannot overcome,” Dunn said. “I think it’s a terrific location.”

Qimonda, an offshoot of Infineon, has been in the Williston location for about seven years.

“I’ll be sorry to see them go,” Dunn said. “We did our best to keep them.”

Qimonda currently employs about 120 people. The company will occupy most of the new building in Technology Park, McKenzie said, but the park is still looking for another tenant to fill the remaining 8,000 square feet or so.

Qimonda is headquartered in Munich, Germany, and employs about 12,500 people worldwide, according to the company Web site. They specialize in DRAM computer memory chips, and had net sales of $5.2 billion in fiscal year 2006.

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