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Forest City Enterprises, Pfizer, University of Michigan, Peptimmune, University Park at MIT, Biocitech, Roowin, Cellectis

Forest City Confirms Visiting Pfizer’s Soon-to-Close Ann Arbor Campus as Sale Speculation Grows
Forest City Enterprises, which transformed a former Pfizer campus in Skokie, Ill., into a multi-tenant research and development park, apparently has thought about doing the same with the pharma giant’s soon-to-close campus in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The $10 billion-a-year, publicly traded real estate developer told the Ann Arbor News it toured the 177-acre Pfizer property in that city last year. Jeff Linton, Forest City's vice president of corporate communication, cautioned that the tour was not necessarily intent on buying the Ann Arbor campus, which has 2 million square feet of R&D space in 27 buildings, and will be vacated by year’s end.
"We look at a lot of opportunities. We don't go forward with all of them by any stretch of the imagination. We get involved in various levels of due diligence, including site visits on a lot of potential projects," Linton told the newspaper.
As the pharma giant fades into history in the region, a casualty of cost-cutting tied to the rise of generic drugs and a dearth of new profitable compounds, a parade of local therapeutics and medical device companies, as well as automotive and aerospace companies, have grown in its place over the past year [BioRegion News, Jan. 14].
Pfizer bases less than 350 people at the Ann Arbor campus, which employed 2,100 people when the company announced it was shutting the place down in January 2007. That workforce will drop to zero by the time the place shuts down later this year. Pfizer has hired the Staubach Co. to market the property.
"We've had a satisfying level of interest and we are making progress. But any sort of final resolution is well into the future,” Rick Chambers, Pfizer's spokesman for Midwest operations, told the News. He declined to discuss Forest City specifically.
But Hank Baier, associate vice president for facilities and operations at the University of Michigan, confirmed that UM administrators have talked with Pfizer executives. UM has the right to repurchase the 53 acres it sold to Pfizer in 2002 should Pfizer decide to sell it.
Speculation about Forest City buying the Ann Arbor campus has also been fueled by the company’s activity in Skokie, Ill. Over the past three years, Forest City has transformed Pfizer’s 23-acre pharmaceutical R&D campus into the Illinois Science + Technology Park, a multi-tenant R&D center that was about 50 percent occupied following a year of marketing [BioRegion News, Jan. 21].

Peptide Therapies Developer Renews Sublease for Cambridge, Mass., Space
Peptimmune has renewed its sublease for 4,335 square feet from Alkermes at 64 Sidney St. in Cambridge, Mass., a 125,000-square-foot, five-story, lab building within University Park at MIT, a 2.3-million-square-foot, 27-acre mixed-use project owned and managed by Forest City development.
Joseph Flaherty and Tucker Hansen of Colliers Meredith & Grew represented Peptimmune and Alkermes in the deal, whose terms were not disclosed. 
Peptimmune is a privately held, clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on development of peptide therapies for chronic autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

Paris’ Biocitech Marks Fifth Anniversary With Two New Leases; Occupancy Tops 80 Percent
Biocitech, a Paris life science technology park, has marked its fifth anniversary this month by announcing a pair of expansions by existing tenants:
  • Roowin, a specialty chemicals company, has increased the size of its space by an undisclosed amount, to 2,000 square meters (about 21,528 square feet). The first firm to move into the tech campus five years ago, Roowin’s work force has grown from a handful of people to its current 40 employees.
  • Cellectis, a rational genome engineering company, also added an undisclosed amount of space, expanding to 2,500 square meters (about 26,910 square feet) in the tech park’s Fleming building.
The new leases raise occupancy at the tech park to 22,400 square meters (about 241,112 square feet), or more than 80 percent of available space.
Biocitech is now home to 21 companies employing roughly a combined 500 people, with plans for double-digit growth this year: "We are already preparing further developments made possible by the huge amount of space in reserve to accommodate other firms," said Jacques Lhomel, Biocitech’s director, in a press release.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.