EDITORIAL:  Re-shaping the Bristol-Myers complex in Wallingford

EDITORIAL:  Re-shaping the Bristol-Myers complex in Wallingford

The huge Bristol-Myers Squibb complex on Research Parkway has become Wallingford’s most expensive white elephant.

"The operating costs on a building like this are staggering, so if we don't have a tenant, we really have to just knock it down," said Bill Manley, CEO of Calare Properties, which bought the building and 180 acres from Bristol-Myers for $5 million in February. Calare’s plan then would be to build two new buildings totaling around 1.1 million square feet. The current building is 915,000 square feet

Bristol-Myers is leasing the space from Calare, through the end of the year, but Calare has had no more luck finding a tenant than Bristol-Myers had in finding a pharmaceutical or biotech or other company to buy the place and move in.

There are many permitted uses within the I-X (“industrial expansion”) zone, but religious, educational and philanthropic uses are excluded.

This led to legal action last year against the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, because Bristol-Myers had found a for-profit school that was interested in the property.

But a judge affirmed the town’s authority to exclude uses — in an industrial zone — that would be tax-exempt.

There are factors — such as relatively low electric rates, and location along the I-91 corridor between New Haven and Hartford, and between New York and Boston — that should make Wallingford an attractive location for a company that needs a million square feet of space. But if the BMS corporate campus doesn’t meet their needs, maybe the only answer is to tear it down and build something else.

We wonder, though, whether Connecticut’s clogged transportation infrastructure, and with the state’s shaky financial situation, aren’t also factors that may be scaring potential tenants away.

If that’s true, it will be up to the next governor and the next General Assembly to do something about it.


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