WALLINGFORD — Officials view the recent sale of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s property as an opportunity to attract biotech companies to the complex.
Bristol-Myers’ 915,000-square-foot facility on Research Parkway was purchased this week by Calare Properties, a Massachusetts real estate firm that plans to lease the space, possibly to multiple tenants.
“If this new owner is willing, and they appear to be, they could create an innovation center that a number of universities could share and it could work out really well,” said state Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford. “I’d like to see it stay in biotech. That’s really what it was designed for and that is one of the dominant industries in our region.”
The complex, which Bristol-Myers will vacate by the end of the year, could “absolutely” benefit Connecticut’s growing bioscience sector, said Dawn Hocevar, president and CEO of BioCT, a non-profit that supports the bioscience industry.
“We absolutely could use more space,” Hocevar said. “There’s a lot of startups that come out of Yale, etc..and there's a lack of startup space.”
Bill Manley, CEO of Calare Properties, said leasing the property to another biotech company is the firm’s “first choice.”
“We would love, love, love to attract a biotech company,” Manley said. “There’s a huge amount of investment and infrastructure (on the property) that lends itself to a biotech use.”
Calare Properties purchased the Bristol-Myers site for $5 million, according to documents filed with the town clerk’s office. The property had been listed on websites for as much as $50 million.
In a statement announcing the acquisition this week, Calare praised Connecticut for becoming “hyper-focused on expanding bioscience and pharmaceutical development, seeing tremendous growth over the past decade within these sectors.”
While the facility is probably too large for one university, Mushinsky said, “if it was a consortium of several universities, it would make a lot of sense for them to share the building.”
State Rep. Vincent Candelora, who represents a section of Wallingford, said the Bristol-Myers facility may be able to follow a model similar to the UConn Health Center, which rents research space to biotech start-ups.
“Not everyone can afford the lab space that's needed in the biotech field, and I think that’s why the UConn Health Center has been successful in renting out space,” said Candelora, a Republican.
Before the sale, Mushinsky said she reached out to the University of Connecticut’s Cell and Genome Sciences facility in Farmington to suggest they consider expanding into a portion of the Bristol-Myers facility.
Mushinsky said the Wallingford site is ideal for UConn’s lab because the school has a partnership with Yale University and Quinnipiac University.
Tim Ryan, the town’s economic development specialist, said the Bristol-Myers site is a good opportunity to “leverage the state’s strengths” and keep talent in the state.
Ryan said he and Town Planner Kacie Hand met with Calare representatives Thursday to discuss their vision for the property.
“This is an opportunity to write the next chapter for this site,” Ryan said. “It’s about envisioning it at this point. We don't have a blank canvas so to speak…but we need to look at the entire site and start having vision of what could go there.”
Much of the 180-acre property is not developed, Ryan said, meaning the site can be redeveloped in the future to meet the needs of tenants.
Manley said the company has plans to develop the site down the road. He praised the town’s leadership.
“That type of stability in political leadership goes a long way,” Manley said. “It helps a lot when you have an administration with a proven track record of creating jobs and opportunities and is a business-friendly place to operate.”