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ComNet Realty, University of Florida, Rockingham County Industrial Development Agency, Commonwealth of Virginia, Presidio Pharmaceuticals, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, University of California San Francisco, City of San Francisco, Biomira, Alberta Cou

New Owner Converting Boca Raton, Fla., Furniture Mart Into $40M Biotech Space
ComNet Realty of Boca Raton, Fla., plans to convert the 160,000-square-foot Florida Furniture Mart in Fort Pierce, Fla., into a $40 million laboratory-office facility, company President Harry Zuker told the Palm Beach Post. Zucker hopes to fill the facility, to be renamed Crossroads Enterprise Park, within a year and a half; the site is projected to accommodate 750 workers. ComNet's lease rates will start at $14 a square foot, not including fees.
The former furniture mart is located off Interstate 95 at Okeechobee Road — a 10-minute drive north of the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies' under-construction campus in Port St. Lucie and about 40 minutes north of Scripps Florida in Jupiter. ComNet bought the 19-year-old shopping center in July for $11.5 million, and owns another 100 acres surrounding the mall. It originally planned to tear down the buildings and develop a big-box shopping center, but will instead preserve the shell of the furniture mart and build out interior space as needed.
ComNet has access to $10 million toward the project from three venture capital firms Zucker will not name, and can tap into additional money if the project takes off. Zuker told the Post he has had talks with the University of Florida's Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator in Alachua, Fla., about referring to his site startups that outgrow the UF space. Those companies will soon have two additional options: The first of two 80,000-square-foot buildings being developed for UF at its Gainesville, Fla., campus by Alexandria Real Estate Equities; and two 32,000-square-foot buildings for which construction has begun at Progress Corporate Park in Alachua (See related story, this issue).

SRI International Breaks Ground on New R&D Facility in Harrisonburg, Va.
SRI International broke ground last week on an approximately $18 million, 40,000-square-foot R&D facility in Harrisonburg, Va., within the new Rockingham Center for Research and Technology, in a ceremony led by Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine and officials from Rockingham County and the city of Harrisonburg. Kaine announced SRI’s intent to build a new facility at the Rockingham Center in December 2006.
The new facility will house SRI Shenandoah Valley and its Center for Advanced Drug Research or CADRE, a newly formed proteomics laboratory now based nearby on the campus of James Madison University. The office-lab building will occupy part of a 25-acre site, with an additional 20 acres reserved for 10 years for potential expansion. SRI has rights to build up to 100,000 square feet in later phases, but the timing will depend on the company’s need for the space.
Nielsen Builders will construct the new facility, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2009.
SRI received incentives that include a $20 million loan secured through Rockingham County’s Industrial Development Agency; and $19 million from Virginia. The commonwealth spent $3 million in fiscal year 2006 to initiate the project, and included $12 million in its fiscal year 2008 budget for SRI. In return, SRI has committed to creating more than 100 new jobs, with an average annual compensation of $85,000, by the end of its first 10 years in operation.
Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., SRI was founded as the Stanford Research Institute in 1946 and has grown since then to specialize in drug discovery, computational biology, and preclinical development. Officials are counting on SRI Shenandoah Valley to co-anchor an emerging life sciences cluster in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley region.

Presidio Pharmaceuticals Relocates Headquarters to San Francisco's Mission Bay
Presidio Pharmaceuticals has relocated its corporate headquarters to 8,100 square feet at 1700 Owens St. within San Francisco’s Mission Bay office/lab complex, being developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities in partnership with the University of California San Francisco and the City of San Francisco.
The new headquarters consolidates in one space the company’s research, clinical development and administrative operations. Presidio previously shared office space with early-stage investor Sagamore Bioventures in San Francisco at 1 Post St., and leased lab space in nearby South San Francisco, Calif.
Presidio said its current staff of 14 employees and company operations will grow in the new facility to support development programs in HIV and hepatitis. Presidio is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on discovering, in-licensing, developing, and commercializing novel therapeutics for viral infections, including HIV-1 and HCV.

Biomira Shareholders Approve Relocation of HQ to US, New Company Name
Biomira, a publicly traded Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, biotech company focusing on development of cancer therapeutics, will relocate its headquarters to the US, as well as change its name to Oncothyreon, under a plan approved by shareholders and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.
Holders of common shares of Biomira will receive one-sixth of a share of common stock of Oncothyreon in exchange for each common share of Biomira. In addition, the new Oncothyreon said it intends to establish its headquarters in or near Seattle.

Insight Genetics Establishes Operations at CET Life Sciences Center
Insight Genetics, a spin-off of Nashville-based Genetic Assays, has secured lab and office space at the Cumberland Emerging Technologies Life Sciences Center in downtown Nashville. Insight Genetics was formed in January 2007 and has developed a genetic screening technology for use in the personalized medicine market.
CET is a joint initiative between Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Inc., Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation.

Alexandria Awarded Silver LEED Status for South San Francisco Build-to-Suit Site
Alexandria Real Estate Equities has been granted a Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification by the US Green Building Council for its 681 Gateway, a 127,000-square-foot build-to-suit building and surrounding 3-acre property in South San Francisco, Calif.
The site is one of the first US office/laboratory spaces to have been certified under LEED’s Core and Shell pilot program, and the only such project to be LEED Silver certified in California. The program assesses the sustainability of base building elements such as structure, envelope and the HVAC system, and incorporates a set of criteria that include water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
At 681 Gateway, more than 16 percent of the materials used incorporate recycled content. The building exceeds California Title 24 energy-efficiency standards by 28 percent and uses day lighting, spectrally selective glazing, motion sensors and dimming controls. The non-chemical water treatment for the cooling towers is projected to reduce water demand by 200,000 gallons per year, more than 10 percent of the building's total water use.

Cambridge, Mass., Architectural Firm Honored by Boston Society of Architects
ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge, an architectural design firm specializing in biotechnology, educational, and athletic facilities, has been honored with a Design Excellence Award for Higher Education Facilities by the Boston Society of Architects for its design of the New Research Building, a 739,288-square-foot research facility at Harvard Medical School in Boston. 
The New Research Building is the largest completed research and education building in Harvard University's history. With 430,000 gross square feet of research space, the NRB houses over 800 researchers and staff from a variety of disciplines. ARC's L-shaped design for the building emphasized the use of clustered lab space to facilitate information sharing between scientists and hospital-based faculty members.
The BSA Awards program, initiated in 2003, celebrates college and university facilities and offers exemplary project awards for design excellence.  This year, a five-person jury representing the BSA examined 86 assorted projects before declaring ARC its winner.

The Scan

mRNA-Based Vaccine on the Way in China

China may soon have its own mRNA-based vaccine, according to Nature News.

Arranged Killing, Fraud Alleged by Prosecutors

The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors allege that the co-founder of a biotech arranged to have a business associate who threatened to expose him as a fraud killed.

Whirlwind Decade of CRISPR

The New York Times looks back at the 10 years since the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues published their CRISPR paper.

PNAS Papers on Blue Cone Monochromacy Structural Variants, HIV-1 Mutant, T-ALL

In PNAS this week: structural variants linked to blue cone monochromacy, HIV-1 variants affecting the matrix protein p17, and more.