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BioRegion Real Estate: Sep 11, 2009

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Citing Almac Expansion, Rendell Decries Proposed Economic Development Cuts Aimed at Derailing Income Tax Hike

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell used a Sept. 5 visit to the construction site of a growing pharmaceutical services company to defend several state economic development programs against cuts proposed by Republican lawmakers intent on blocking an income tax hike proposed by the Democratic governor, who is term-limited out of office next year.

Almac Group of Northern Ireland is building a new 240,000-square-foot North American headquarters building on a 40-acre site in Souderton, Pa. — the first phase of a planned $100 million, 1 million-square-foot expansion for the international pharma and biotech services firm.

Almac chose Pennsylvania over sites in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Montana after Keystone State officials offered the company state grants and a loan totaling just over $12 million. The subsidies include $1.25 million from the state infrastructure development program, and $400,000 from the opportunity grant program — two programs targeted for elimination by Republicans in the state House of Representatives and state Senate. Rendell has proposed $17.5 million for infrastructure development and $18.3 million for opportunity grants.

One-third of the state incentive package for Almac, $4.5 million, was offered as a grant under the state Infrastructure and Facilities Improvement Program, which legislative Republicans would reduce in FY ’10 to $25.5 million from the $30 million proposed.

GOP lawmakers eliminated those programs as part of their proposed $27.14 billion state budget, which would reduce state spending 6.4 percent from the fiscal year than ended June 30. Rendell has proposed a $29 billion budget that would add 0.5 percent to the state’s current 3.07 percent income tax.

Rendell and lawmakers are at odds over how to eliminate a $3.2 billion budget shortfall stemming from lower revenues that officials blame on the economic slump. The stalemate has delayed the adoption of a state budget by more than two months from the July 1 start of the state fiscal year — leaving Pennsylvania as the nation’s only state with no budget currently in place.

"It would be shortsighted to scale back our attempts to attract and expand business, just when our economy needs help the most," Rendell said in a statement. "During this downturn we have to tighten our belts and address our budget deficit, and state government is doing that, but we also have to invest in the state's long term future."

At the event, according to the Intelligencer of Doylestown, Pa., Rendell offered a more forceful pitch: "Without economic incentives we simply can't be successful … When we cut the budget it's important to understand there's a price to pay."

Almac’s package of state incentives also includes $3 million from the Redevelopment Capital Assistance or RCAP program, a $2 million loan from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority; $786,000 in state Job Creation Tax Credits, and $100,000 under the state Customized Job Training Funds program.

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Construction of Almac's new headquarters in Montgomery County began last year. Upon completion of the first phase, expected in 2010, Almac will combine separate divisions now operating in Audubon, Pa., and Yardley, Pa., with a combined 510 jobs. Within three years, Almac has projected adding 262 jobs, with another 550 set to be created by 2016.


North Carolina Biotechnology Center Industry Drives Need for New Programs and Space

The state-funded North Carolina Biotechnology Center plans to start construction in October on a $10.4 million, 20,000-square-foot addition to its Research Triangle Park headquarters, within a four-story building set to be completed in the fall of 2010.

The addition will house offices for several biotech center initiatives in biotechnology leadership, entrepreneurship, K-12 education, workforce training, business development and university research programs. The new space will expand a 47,000-square-foot facility that was built to house 50 employees but now accommodates 65 staffers and attracts an estimated 35,000 visitors annually, according to the biotech center.

Perkins + Will, which designed the original building, created the plans for the addition, construction of which is being managed by general contractor Skanska, which, according to the biotech center, expects to employ as many as 200 people in the project. The expansion will be designed to the "silver" rating of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards developed by the US Green Building Council.

The expansion won some key funding this week, when the Biogen Idec Foundation announced Wednesday that it had made a $1 million gift through its Transformational Grants in Science Education initiative. "The Biotech center aligns very well with our foundation’s mission charter, which is to improve life and science literacy and to encourage young people to pursue science careers,” Esther Alegria, Biogen’s vice president of manufacturing and a key executive in its grant awarding process, told Local Tech Wire.

The center will receive the $1 million over the next five years, she added.

The project has also won funding from the Duke Energy Foundation, PPD, and the Triangle University Center for Advanced Studies. TUCAS owns the land in Research Triangle Park that is home to the biotech center's headquarters as well as other institutes that strive to promote Triangle university collaboration.

"Leadership by the Center created a thriving industry with broader needs, and we are pleased to move forward with building the infrastructure to allow the Center to extend that leadership," Robert Ingram, vice chairman of pharmaceuticals for GlaxoSmithKline, and chairman of the biotech center's building committee, said in a statement.

According to the biotech center, North Carolina is home to more than 520 biotechnology companies and almost 60,000 jobs with an average salary of more than $69,000, and a projected annual economic impact of $45.8 billion. That number of jobs could more than double, with 65,000 to 70,000 new jobs possible by 2020, E. Norris Tolson, the biotech center's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement announcing the expansion project.


Massachusetts Forms Permitting Collaborative, a Pre-Application Multi-Agency Review Effort

Massachusetts officials have formed a Massachusetts Permitting Collaborative, which is designed to provide more state support and guidance for new development projects through reviews by multiple agencies before plans undergo formal state permitting and regulatory reviews.

Under the collaborative, project applicants will meet officials from nine Massachusetts agencies, with the goal of jointly addressing potential issues early, avoiding delays, and deciding on projects faster. Eligible for the program are projects that require permits from two or more state agencies, and have not yet started the process of pursuing permits, but anticipate filing by July 1, 2010.

The Bay State has tried in recent years to reverse its longstanding reputation for lengthy land-use reviews and fractiousness among involved agencies; the state's General Law Chapter 43D, for example, sets a six-month timeline for decisions by local boards on land-use projects within "priority development" sites, which must be zoned for either commercial or industrial development, and must allow for the development or redevelopment of a building of at least 50,000 square feet gross floor area, including existing structures and contiguous buildings.

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The state agencies forming the collaborative include the Massachusetts Permit Regulatory Office; the state departments of environmental protection, housing and community development, and public safety; the state divisions of capital asset management and fish & game; the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act Office, and the state Executive Office of Transportation, also called MassHighway.


University of Colorado Boulder Breaks Ground on Up-to-$145M First Phase of New Biotech Facility

The University of Colorado broke ground Wednesday on the 257,000-square-foot first phase of the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building, set to rise on the CU-Boulder East Campus, slated for completion in fall 2011. A 54,000-square-foot addition has also been planned for construction at a later date.

The cost of the first-phase construction is projected at between $120 million and $145 million. According to CU, more than half of that cost has already has been committed, including more than $60 million from the university; $20 million in gifts from CU Distinguished Professor Marvin Caruthers; $2 million from Jeannie Thompson, chair of the University of Colorado Foundation board of directors, and her husband, Jack; and other private gifts. CU said it is seeking additional public and private support for the project.

The building will house 60 senior faculty researchers and more than 500 research and support staffers working on diagnoses and therapies for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and infectious diseases, as well as in regenerative medicine. The building also will house the university's Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, the department of chemical and biological engineering, and the biochemistry division faculty of the department of chemistry and biochemistry.

CIMB's research team of scientists and engineers spanning eight CU departments will be housed in one location for the first time since its formation. The team received a boost this year when Tom Cech, 1989 winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry, rejoined CU's faculty as a distinguished professor in spring 2009 to head up the initiative.

Activities within the Caruthers building also will include a center for hosting workshops for K-12 teachers and students, as well as CU-Boulder undergraduates working to establish careers in biomedical research.

The building's design concept consists of "research neighborhoods" consisting of research labs, with support spaces and collaboration spaces, all connected via a corridor or "main street." HDR Architects, in association with Robert A. M. Stern Architects, designed the building.


Hawaii CDA Approves 29-Acre Kakaako Plan, Including 400K Sq.-Ft. Research Center

The Hawaii Community Development Authority has approved the master plan of Kamehameha Schools for a 29-acre mixed-use community that would include a 400,000-square-foot Asia Pacific Research Center designed to house biotech companies and labs, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported.

The project, officially called "Kaiaulu 'O Kakaako," will also include up to 2,750 residences in high-rises, townhomes and lofts; a Safeway supermarket set to open in the former CompUSA space along Ala Moana Boulevard; and a 25,000-square-foot plaza along Auahi Street.

Kamehameha Schools said it will issue a request for proposals from developers for one piece of the housing component, a residential tower at the corner of Halekauwila and South streets geared toward below-market "workforce" housing. Hawaii requires developers to set aside at least 20 percent of their units in multi-family projects as below-market "reserved" housing, though Kamehameha Schools has also offered to set aside an additional 2 percent for lower-income residents, the newspaper reported.

Before starting construction, Kamehameha still will need to apply for a city building permit, as well as a development permit from the authority, according to the Star-Bulletin.


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Fox Chase Cancer Center Wins $8M NIH Grant for Expanded Laboratory Animal Research Facility

The Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia has received an $8 million grant — made available through the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus measure enacted in February by President Obama — toward expanding its laboratory animal research facility from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health.

The new four-story, 25,290 square-foot facility will be designed to support advanced research into cancer, opening the way for the development of new treatments. Construction of the facility, which will house mouse models for cancer research, should begin within a year, the cancer center said in a statement.

The space will be built alongside and serve as an expansion to the existing animal facility on the Fox Chase campus. Plans entail using the top two floors, roughly 12,910 square feet, for new animal research space, reserving the remaining two floors for support areas and future expansion. The new facility will include high efficiency particulate air or HEPA ventilation systems, and improved support for animal care equipment.

"While the current facilities are entirely adequate for the care and feeding of the animal models they house, they are simply not large enough or sophisticated enough to meet the needs of Fox Chase's expanding research faculty," Harry Rozmiarek, director of Fox Chase's laboratory animal medicine program, said in a statement.


inVentiv Health Moves Into New Franklin Township, NJ, Headquarters, with Plans to Create 150 New Jobs

New Jersey officials joined more than 500 inVentiv Health employees in celebrating the company's opening of its new four-story, 154,000-square-foot headquarters at 500 Atrium Drive in Somerset, NJ, which the company built after agreeing to consolidate there several offices scattered throughout the region, in return for economic development incentives from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

The provider of commercialization services to the global pharmaceutical and health care industries agreed to retain 400 jobs in New Jersey by moving to the new HQ employees based elsewhere in Somerset, and Somerville; shift 50 employees to the headquarters from Newtown, Pa. before year's end; and create 150 new full-time jobs at the new HQ.

In return, inVentiv received a 10-year grant under the state's Business Employment Incentive Program for the maximum 80 percent of the total amount of employees' state income taxes withheld by the company during the calendar year from the new employees hired, awarded for up to 10 years, as well as other incentives under the Business Relocation and Retention Assistance Grant Program.

"The estimated value of the BRRAG benefit for this project is $621,000, based on 414 retained New Jersey employees times $1,500 per employee," Lauren Moore, director of the New Jersey EDA's business retention and attraction unit, told the board of directors of the state Commerce Commission, according to minutes of the commission's May 21, 2008, meeting.

inVentiv now employs 550 people in New Jersey, including 100 temporary workers, part of a global 7,000-person workforce.


BMS Outsources Manufacturing, Distribution of 15 Products in Australia and New Zealand; Acquires Victoria Plant

Bristol-Myers Squibb has outsourced the manufacturing of some products to Australia-based Sigma Pharmaceuticals, which has also spent A$60 million ($51.7 million) to acquire a Victoria, Australia, facility from the pharma giant, according to in-Pharma Technologist.com.

The Victoria facility and the five-year manufacturing deal were part of a transaction that included BMS transferring to Sigma the rights to make and distribute 15 of its products, including Lipostat (pravastatin), in Australia and New Zealand.

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Sigma will raise A$297 million from shareholders to fund the acquisition and help cut its debt, which is currently A$227 million. To achieve this Sigma has halted trading and is offering shareholders one new share at a 16 percent discount for every three that they own.
Sigma said it anticipates generating revenues of A$17 million from the B-MS contract and. Sigma intends to retain all 140 staff employed at the Victoria facility, according to in-PharmaTechnologist.com.


Lonza Group Breaks Ground on Singapore Cell Therapy Facility Near Mammalian Manufacturing Facility

Swiss-owned Lonza Group this week broke ground on a CHF 30 million ($28.9 million) cell therapy facility within Singapore's Tuas Biomedical Park, adjacent to Lonza’s large-scale mammalian manufacturing facility.

Site work began in May, and construction is expected to begin in earnest next year, with the first two suites expected to begin manufacturing therapies by mid-2011, and another two suites set to be completed in 2013.

The new facility "is a next step in fulfilling our strategy to expand our capacity globally and our presence in Asia," Lonza CEO Stefan Borgas said at the Sept. 8 groundbreaking ceremony.

During the ceremony, S. Iswaran, Singapore's senior minister of state for trade & industry and education, hailed the plant as a key milestone in Singapore developing within its borders a cluster of biologics facilities projected to employ more than 1,000 people, according to a text of his remarks released by the Singapore Economic Development Board.


Brooklyn, NY, Partners Win $3M US EDA Grant for Addition to SUNY Downstate's Advanced Biotechnology Incubator

The US Economic Development Administration has approved a $3 million grant to the Health Science Center at Brooklyn Foundation and the Downstate Technology Center toward a three-story, 24,000-square-foot addition to the Advanced Biotechnology Incubator operated by SUNY Downstate Medical Center, part of the State University of New York.

The expansion project is expected to create 90 jobs and generate $20 million in private investment, the grantees have told EDA.

The incubator, at 450 Clarkson Ave., houses eight tenant companies and is connected with a space for larger life-sci companies operated by SUNY Downstate five miles south, at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in the borough's Sunset Park section. Over the past five years, the incubator has generated between 100 and 150 mainly research jobs, Eva Cramer, SUNY Downstate’s vice president for biotechnology and scientific affairs, told the New York Post.

Cramer, a professor of anatomy and cell biology at SUNY Downstate, told the newspaper that supporters have raised $25 million for the incubator, as well as another $42 million from New York state and $12 million from the New York City Economic Development Corp. for the Brooklyn Army Terminal space.

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One of the incubator's most prominent tenants is the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a nonprofit research institute that occupies 1,000 square feet there as well as a $17 million, 36,000-square-foot AIDS Vaccine Development Laboratory that opened late last year at the Brooklyn Army Terminal [BRN, Dec. 1, 2008].

IAVI recently joined the Scripps Research Institute, and biotechnology companies Theraclone Sciences and Monogram Biosciences in publishing in Science the results of research showing that two new antibodies to HIV revealed potential targets for a future AIDS vaccine.


Private Equity Fund Manager Selling 705K Sq.-Ft. R&D Campus in Lansdale, Pa.

Private equity real estate fund manager BPG Properties is seeking a buyer for 2750 Morris Road, a 705,000-square-foot research and development/manufacturing facility in the Philadelphia suburb of Lansdale, Pa., through the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Among selling points advanced by BPG and C&W is the Greater Philadelphia region's life sciences cluster, as well as the 87-acre site's location less than 5 miles from the Lansdale interchange of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 476) in Montgomery County.

2750 Morris Road consists of five interconnecting buildings that include office, administrative, engineering, manufacturing and production space. Buildings can be subdivided into spaces as small as 45,000 square feet. Electrical and mechanical systems include an HVAC chilled water system with 3200 tons of cooling capacity and a Class 10,000 clean room. A separate detached pump station services the site and houses five generators designed to power the entire site without interruption.

The facility was designed and built in 1989 for Ford Electronics and Refrigeration, and is now the regional manufacturing facility for Visteon, a manufacturer of electronic control modules for vehicles that is Ford Motor Co.'s top parts supplier and a former subsidiary of the auto giant. Visteon, which in May filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware, is moving its operations overseas and will vacate the property during the first quarter of 2010, in the process eliminating all 300 jobs.

John Shelly and Gina Brennan of Cushman & Wakefield of Pennsylvania have been named as sales and listing agents for the property.

BPG Properties oversees a portfolio of more than 20 million square feet of office, retail, student housing, and industrial properties, and more than 25,000 apartment units in more than 100 communities nationwide.


The Scan

Call to Look Again

More than a dozen researchers penned a letter in Science saying a previous investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2 did not give theories equal consideration.

Not Always Trusted

In a new poll, slightly more than half of US adults have a great deal or quite a lot of trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Hill reports.

Identified Decades Later

A genetic genealogy approach has identified "Christy Crystal Creek," the New York Times reports.

Science Papers Report on Splicing Enhancer, Point of Care Test for Sexual Transmitted Disease

In Science this week: a novel RNA structural element that acts as a splicing enhancer, and more.