November 10, 2017

WBDC secures manufacturing campus land

Grant Welker
Cottages that were a part of the former Worcester State Hospital will be demolished to make way for a new biomanufacturing office complex.

The Worcester Business Development Corp. and the state signed a land disposition agreement Thursday for a planned 44-acre biomanufacturing campus near the UMass Medical School.

The long-expected procedural step is the latest in a series of moves that the WBDC hopes will eventually lead to a major expansion of science- and technology-based companies in a neighborhood already including AbbVie and a cluster of companies in the UMass Medicine Science Park.

A formal sale of the site, which is part of the former Worcester State Hospital, is expected to take place Dec. 15, according to Roberta Brien, WBDC vice president of projects. No sale price has been made public.

The sale will take place in two steps, Brien said. About half of the site will be transferred in December. The Byran Building, a large brick structure at the rear of the site, is being worked on by the state to be decommissioned and will not be transferred until a later point.

The process of creating a biomanufacturing campus on the site has been delayed and hit some snags. LakePharma, a California biologics company, was initially expected to potentially anchor the site but backed out this summer. The sale of the site by the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to WBDC was first expected to take place in June.

The process was given an aggressive timetable to take advantage of market demand, Brien said.

At full build-out, the campus off Belmont and Plantation streets is expected to total about 500,000 square feet in five or so buildings. Construction will not begin until a major tenant is in place, however. Several buildings are slated for demolition first.

The WBDC, a nonprofit business development agency, has continued working to attract potential tenants. "Nothing's imminent," Brien said.

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