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BioBricks & Mortar: Feb 9, 2009


Alexandria Wins South San Francisco, Calif., Approval for 292K Sq. Ft. Lab Building

The South San Francisco, Calif., City Council has approved plans for a nine-story, 292,000-square-foot research and development center by Alexandria Real Estate Equities that will replace a pair of 40-year-old buildings at 213 East Grand Ave.

"The project will go a long way to revitalize and underscore this high visible corridor of South San Francisco. The 213 development will be a significant statement in redefining the neighborhood while fully complying with the city's area development guidelines," Alexandria said in its planning application for 213 East Grand Ave., submitted in May 2008 [BRN, Sept. 29, 2008].

The center will be erected as soon as a tenant is identified, which is likely to happen soon, Michael Lappen, economic development coordinator for South San Francisco, told the San Francisco Examiner last week.

"Biotech is one of the few growth industries in California, and it will continue to grow," Lappen said. "We'll see a slowdown in the next four or five years, but we won't need to scramble to attract businesses to come here."

Approval for Alexandria's project came just weeks after Centrum Properties announced it will spend $23 million to renovate the 572,000-square foot SFO Logistics Center on San Mateo Avenue. Centrum will likely keep the center's current tenants, which include the US Postal Service and the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

"We're not going to deter from going forward, particularly in South San Francisco because of the strength of the biotech industry," Mike McLean, vice president of development for Centrum, told the newspaper.

Northeast Georgia Officials Briefed on State of the State's Life Sciences Industry

The Georgia Bio-science Joint Development Authority briefed some 50 officials from Gwinnett, Barrow, Oconee and Athens-Clarke counties and researchers from both ends of Georgia's Highway 316 corridor on Feb. 5 about the state of the Peachtree State's life sciences industry, and how to foster biotech in Northeast Georgia, the Athens Banner-Herald reported.

Georgia is home to about 300 life-sciences businesses that employ about 15,000 people, GeorgiaBio President Charles Craig told the officials. That number of employees doubles when people working in research labs at public universities and government research centers are counted, he added, according to the newspaper.

Rather than trying to attract one or two internationally known bioscience firms to the state, Georgia should seek to retain homegrown life-sci businesses within the state as they grow, Kerry Armstrong, a broker with Duke Realty in Atlanta, told the Banner-Herald.

"We have the research happening now. My worry is that when it becomes monetized, when it's a product ready to come out of the lab, that were going to lose them because they have no place to set up shop," Armstrong said.

Armstrong, a founding member of the authority, estimated that a bioscience research park would cost as much as $180 million, based on the expenses to develop a 170-acre, 20-building business park on Sugarloaf Parkway in Gwinnett County.

NC Research Campus Institutions Grapple with Likelihood of State Budget Cuts

The University of North Carolina System has asked the state's General Assembly for an additional $10 million for food/real estate magnate David Murdock's NC Research Campus, taking shape in Kannapolis, NC — a sum that would boost state funding for the biocampus to $29.5 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1, Rob Nelson, the system's vice president for finance, told the Charlotte Business Journal.

Roughly half of that increase — nearly $5 million — is for staffing. About $3.2 million would be for faculty positions, with the balance allocated for operating costs, equipment and supplies.

But the state's worsening fiscal condition may lead instead to budget cuts likely to slow the hiring of tenure-track faculty at the 350-acre life sciences hub, which focuses its research on health and nutrition. Just how deep those cuts will be is still to be determined. It also will require those on campus to tighten their belts, from trimming the purchase of supplies to scaling back on travel, Nelson said.

"Certainly, we know it's going to be very difficult for the General Assembly to provide any additional funds for anything," Nelson acknowledged to the newspaper.

Several of the universities with a presence on the research campus say they are preparing for a 7 percent cut in the upcoming state budget — on a par with cuts recently imposed for several state agencies as North Carolina grapples with a $2 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Steve Zeisel, director of the UNC Nutrition Research Institute, told the Business Journal he had hoped to add 12 tenure-track faculty positions, increasing the institute's total to 18. He added that he was continuing with his recruitment efforts, noting it takes about eight months to bring a new faculty member on board.

"My hope is everybody will see this is one of the investments that helps us eventually climb out of this economic problem and that they will decide to give us the resources to continue with our growth," Zeisel said.

It will be at least early March before state officials have a clear idea of where the cuts will be needed in the new budget, Chrissy Pearson, a spokeswoman for new Gov. Bev Perdue, told the newspaper, adding: "Nothing's off the table completely, but she's trying to take care of certain issues she considers to be her seed-corn."

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Gilead Adds to Foster City, Calif., Presence With $137.5M Purchase of EFI HQ, 30-Acre Parcel

Gilead Sciences has completed its partial acquisition of the Electronics For Imaging headquarters along with a 30-acre parcel adjacent to its headquarters in Foster City, Calif., for $137.5 million, according to CoStar News.

Gilead intends to occupy the five-story, 163,000-square-foot building, at 301 Velocity Way, and formulate a development plan for the parcel, which can accommodate 542,000 square feet of office space. The biopharmaceutical company owns the Vintage Park office campus that surrounds the EFI headquarters with 17 buildings.

John Milligan, president and COO of Gilead, called the deal "an efficient means for expanding our Foster City campus to create flexibility and to accommodate planned long-term growth."

Gilead's new building was completed in 2001 as the second within the EFI campus. EFI received approvals from the Foster City Council several years ago for 1 million square feet of offices, R&D and light warehousing. EFI will remain in its 295,000-square-foot headquarters at 303 Velocity Way. As part of the deal, Gilead obtained the right of first refusal to acquire the rest of EFI's adjacent real estate assets, including the neighboring 10-story, 300,000-square-foot office building 303 Velocity Way, according to an October filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Michel Seifer and Robert Dmytryk, both of the commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle's JLL Capital Markets unit, represented EFI in the sale

EFI began marketing its 35-acre property in May as part of a downsizing effort. Per the option agreement, Gilead had until Dec. 12 to terminate the deal without losing a $5 million deposit, or commit to the deal by putting up an additional $5 million, according to But on deadline day, Gilead and EFI agreed to extend Gilead's termination right to Jan. 13, according to a Dec. 18 filing with the SEC by EFI. The January deadline came and went without an announcement or SEC filing from either party, which have not discussed the transaction until they disclosed that the property had changed hands.

Max Planck Florida Institute Issues Requests for Proposal Seeking Construction Manager

The Max Planck Florida Institute has issued a request for proposals for a construction manager to build a 100,000-square-foot biomedical research facility at Florida Atlantic University's MacArthur Campus in Jupiter, Fla.

Interested firms must meet minimum qualifications that include experience in the construction of complex, major educational, institutional, industrial and research projects. Three of those projects should have been completed within the last 10 years, and each have a value of more than $50 million. Firms should also have demonstrated experience in managing and executing projects certified by the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, ratings system, and include a commitment to maximizing local business and small business enterprise participation throughout the construction program.

Construction on the Max Planck Florida Institute is expected to begin in spring 2010, and completed by fall 2011. A full list of requirements is available here. Proposals are due by Feb. 25.

Washington, D.C.-based Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, LLP is the project architect, while Jones Lang LaSalle Americas serves as the program manager that will oversee development and construction.

Max Planck agreed to establish its Jupiter facility following approval by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's Office of Tourism, Trade & Economic Development for $94 million from the now-defunct Innovation Incentive Fund, as well as $94 million from Palm Beach County, FAU, and the town of Jupiter. The county's contribution alone was $86.9 million.

In return for the subsidies, Max Planck Florida is expected to support the creation of more than 1,800 jobs --- both directly and indirectly --- over the next two decades, and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity.

Research at the Max Planck Florida Institute will focus on bioimaging, using the most advanced techniques to visualize microscopic molecular processes.

New Jersey Lauds Eli Lilly After Promise to Retain ImClone Operations in Branchburg

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine's Office of Economic Growth has showered praise on Eli Lilly and Co. for a recent pledge to keep newly acquired ImClone Systems' operations and employee base in New Jersey.

OEG Chief Jerold Zaro joined John Lechleiter, Eli Lilly's chairman, president, and CEO, and other company officials for a recent celebration of the deal closing and a tour of the Lilly-ImClone biotechnology manufacturing facility in Branchburg, NJ, where more than 900 employees now work, primarily in biotech clinical development and manufacturing jobs.

Lechleiter said the Branchburg facility, with its recent FDA approval to manufacture multiple biotech products, was poised for future growth as Lilly expands its biotechnology capabilities.

VWR International Inks 150K Sq. Ft. Lease for New HQ at Malvern, Pa., Complex

Global laboratory supply and distribution company VWR International has signed a 150,000-square-foot, build-to-suit office lease to relocate its headquarters to Uptown Worthington, a 1.6 million-square-foot mixed-use community being developed in Malvern, Pa., by O'Neill Properties Group, CoStar News has reported.

VWR's new space will be part of a 240,000-square-foot building that will also house a fitness center and several restaurants. The lease marks the end of a yearlong search for VWR, whose lease at its present headquarters in West Chester, Pa., expires in 2010.

Binswanger President and CEO David Binswanger, as well as senior vice presidents Scott Gabrielsen and Scott Williams, handled negotiations for VWR and assisted in the search. Binswanger will also serve as project manager for the build-to-suit development, which is slated for completion in the third quarter of 2010.

Uptown Worthington, now under construction at the site of the former Worthington Steel factory, is planned for 185,000 square feet of office space, 745,000 square feet of retail space and 753 residences.

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Gateway Park Looms as a Plan B for Insurance Provider Eager to Move Within Worcester, Mass.

Gateway Park, the laboratory-residential-retail campus being developed as a joint venture of Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute and the Worcester Business Development Corp., is being considered as a possible location for new offices that disability insurance provider Unum Group wants to relocate within the city, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has reported.

Unum wants to relocate offices and 700 employees now based at 18 Chestnut St. Unum is in talks with Berkeley Investments to become an anchor tenant for the CitySquare mixed-use development being planned for the site of a now-shuttered downtown mall. If those talks fail, the newspaper reported, Unum would consider Gateway Park, which till now has positioned itself as focused on life sciences development, with retail shops, residential units, and possibly graduate student housing having been discussed on the project's web site as potential uses.

The possibility of Unum moving into space envisioned for attracting life sciences companies has generated criticism from two City Council members, Philip Palmieri and Joseph Petty, as well as from City Manager Michael O'Brien, and even Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who cited the long time it took to find life-sci users for the Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park off Plantation Street. "By building on its strengths and sticking to the plan, good things will also happen at Gateway Park. But there has to be a focus and discipline not to stray from the course that was set for it," Murray told the newspaper.

In response, David Forsberg, president of the WBDC, has told the newspaper he was surprised by the criticism; that Unum sought out Gateway Park, not the other way around; and that Gateway Park was not deviating from its mission: "Our 2001 master plan called for mixed uses."

Forsberg told the Telegram & Gazette: "My attitude has been that we should do everything possible to keep Unum in the city because they are a major employer in the downtown … If Unum becomes the trigger that launches CitySquare, I would be the first to stand up and cheer. But if CitySquare does not work out for them, and Unum had no other options in the city, it would leave them with no alternatives but the suburbs, and that would be a disaster."

Novavax: Pilot Manufacturing Plant Within Rockville, Md., HQ Ready for Operations

Novavax of Rockville, Md., has announced that all the equipment is installed and ready for operations at its new $5 million, 10,000-square-foot Good Manufacturing Practice pilot plant, within its Rockville, Md., headquarters. The pilot plant is designed to manufacture pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccine clinical supplies and commercial batches at a 1,000 liter scale.

The company uses virus-like particle technology in the plant, which has an expected capacity of 2 million to 3 million doses of monovalent pandemic flu vaccine per week. The plant must still obtain approvals from the US Food and Drug Administration before it can begin vaccine production.

Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Florida's Blood Centers Eye Biotech Incubator

The Metro Orlando (Fla.) Economic Development Commission and Florida's Blood Centers may create a biotechnology incubator in Orlando that would house up to a half-dozen start-up firms, the Orlando Business Journal has reported.

Creating the biotech incubator would involve using the 10,000 square feet of biology and chemistry labs in the Florida's Blood Centers offices now serving as a temporary home for the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, the newspaper reported. Burnham will vacate the space when it moves to its new $60 million headquarters in Lake Nona once its construction is completed in April.

Like other parts of Florida, the Orlando area as has sought to attract biotech businesses in recent years, since they are considered part of a non-polluting "clean" industry whose jobs pay more than $100,000 a year, compared to the average Central Florida annual wage of $38,000.

Citing Economy, India's Uttarakhand State Shelves Plans for Biotech/IT Park at Pantnagar

The Indian state of Uttarakhand has shelved plans announced five years ago for a 500-acre biotechnology and information technology park in a Special Economic Zone within the Pantnagar section of the Kumoan region, Business-Standard reported. While the decision was blamed on the global economic slowdown, officials said the land has been allotted to other industries for expansion purposes, leaving no place for the project.

Ernst and Young served as marketing consultant for the project, whose cost had been pegged at between Rs 150 to Rs 300 crore ($30.8 million to $61.7 million). Hyderabad-based Ramky Infra Consulting Pvt Ltd had served as project designer.

The shelving of the IT-BT project is considered a setback to the Uttarakhand government's efforts to accord priority to the biotechnology sector, according to Business-Standard, since the state had proposed to establish a state-of-the-art biotech park since releasing its first Biotechnology Policy in 2004.

Some 175 of the 500 species of medicinal plants found in the Indian system of medicine can be found in Uttarakhand, as can several research institutes, including Roorkee, Forest Research Institute, Herbal Research & Development, regional centers of the National Bureau of Plant & Genetic Resources, and the Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants. The existing industrial cluster in Pantnagar is home to food and natural product corporations such as Dabur, Britannia and Nestle.

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Memorandum of Understanding Links Barcelona's BioCat, Asian Biotech Federation

BioCat, the association that promotes life sciences activity in Barcelona, Spain, has signed a formal memorandum of understanding with the Federation of Asian Biotech Associations, representing the biotech parks in India's Genome Valley region, calling for collaborative activities between the two organizations. The accord was signed on the concluding day of the three-day Bio-Asia 2009 in Hyderabad, India, on Feb. 4.

The MoU aims for exchange of technologies, researchers and students between Hyderabad and Barcelona. It was signed by Manel Balcells, President of BioCat's executive committee; BS Bajaj, secretary-general of FABA; and BP Acharya, chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Industrial and Infrastructure Corp.

GE Healthcare, Wave Biotech Sell Somerset, NJ, Flex Building for $5.5M

A joint venture of GE Healthcare and Wave Biotech has sold Frankln Square 3, a two-story, 70,000-square-foot office/warehouse "flex" building in Somerset, NJ, to Everest Production Corp., a television and video production company focused on multimedia projects, for $5.5 million, or $79 per square-foot, according to CoStar News.

The building, located at 300 Franklin Square Drive, was built in 1988. Todd Stires of Lamington Properties represented Everest Production, while Huseyin Copur of Coldwell Banker represented the seller.

Genzyme Buys $1.1M Framingham, Mass., Parcel, With Technology Park Expansion in Mind

Genzyme has purchased for $1.1 million a property straddling the communities of Marlborough, Mass., and Northborough, Mass., where the national school bus company First Student is completing a new $2.7 million, 24,000-square-foot terminal, a site into which the biotech giant contemplates expansion someday, the Worcester Business Journal reported.

The Hayes Memorial Drive property is within the Framingham (Mass.) Technology Park, where Genzyme opened a $125 million, 180,000-square-foot science center in September. First Student is moving to Marlborough from its current depot location, at 47 New York Ave. in Framingham in February, Michael Sullivan of First Student told the Business Journal. The newspaper could not reach Genzyme officials for comment.

Genzyme bought the land for the new bus depot on Jan. 7 from the Marlborough Northborough Land Realty Trust, according to the South Middlesex County Registry of Deeds, the newspaper reported, adding that the biotech company struck a deal with the trust for the purchase of the land in June.

Genzyme's Corporate Headquarters in Boston Wins Harleston Parker Medal

Genzyme Center, the biotech giant's 12-story, 350,000-square-foot global corporate headquarters in the Kendall Square section of Cambridge, Mass., has been awarded the 2008 Harleston Parker Medal, a design award presented by the Boston Society of Architects and the city of Boston to honor what they deem the most beautiful building or other structure built in the greater Boston area during the past decade.

A jury evaluated about 170 nominations for the award, which was established in 1921 by Boston architect J. Harleston Parker.

"In addition to the Genzyme headquarters building's striking physical aesthetic, the project has had a catalytic influence on the Boston area design and policy making community, representing the marriage of design and innovation and setting the stage for a new standard of sustainable design in the region," the award jury concluded in a report to the BSA.

"As a self-described 'symbol of progress', Genzyme Center has, in fact, already served as a kind of 'demonstration project', pointing the way to a future where collaboration and clear goals can yield results that work at the many different levels necessary to create a successful 21st-century workplace," the jury added.

Designed by the Stuttgart, Germany-, and Los Angeles-based architecture firm Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner, in collaboration with Boston-based Next Phase Studios Architects, Genzyme Center has received the highest rating issued by the US Green Building Council, a Platinum certification under the council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. Nearly 75 percent of the materials used in Genzyme Center contain recycled content, and over 90 percent of construction waste was recycled.

Since the building opened, more than 15,000 visitors have toured Genzyme Center, according to Genzyme.

The Scan

Harvard Team Report One-Time Base Editing Treatment for Motor Neuron Disease in Mice

A base-editing approach restored SMN levels and improved motor function in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy, a new Science paper reports.

International Team Examines History of North American Horses

Genetic and other analyses presented in Science find that horses spread to the northern Rockies and Great Plains by the first half of the 17th century.

New Study Examines Genetic Dominance Within UK Biobank

Researchers analyze instances of genetic dominance within UK Biobank data, as they report in Science.

Cell Signaling Pathway Identified as Metastasis Suppressor

A new study in Nature homes in on the STING pathway as a suppressor of metastasis in a mouse model of lung cancer.