The developer of the Pine Island Elk Run biotechnology project has requested a permit to construct the first building of the ambitious plan, setting the stage for work to begin within weeks…
"This is the proof in the pudding." Pine Island City Administrator Abraham Algadi said after Tower Investments Inc. filed for the permit Friday. "Now you're going to see the project in three dimensions."
The first structure at the biotech park will be a $7 million, 50,400-square-foot shell structure designed to easily adjust to meet the needs of companies that populate it. If one business needs to expand, collapsible walls allow access to the next space.
"The building is approximately 20 feet tall, and it will house multiple tenants — three, four tenants, let's say — and these tenants are in the medical field, so they could be R&D, they could be manufacturing of medical devices," project architect Brian Houwman said.
Several such "flexible" buildings are planned after the first, he said.
Several sources said 14 or 15 buildings should be completed within five years. Construction will begin on another new building when space is nearly full in the previous one. There will be variability in designs, but buildings will be "tied together" with landscaping and design.
"We're trying to really create this hybrid so, if there is a need for that, perhaps there could be some showroom space, laboratory space, office space in the high-tech environment," Houwman said. The first building is intended as a flexible design that can be changed to meet user needs. It's a one-story with space for trucks to load.
Construction companies are very interested in Elk Run, especially those that build laboratories and health-care facilities, said Brian Carlson, director of business development for Knutson Construction Services in Rochester, which is not involved in the first Elk Run building.
Tower Investments spokesman Geoff Griffin said a formal announcement about company names and products can be expected within weeks. He expects occupancy for the first company to be ready by late 2010 or early 2011. Near-constant construction on building after building is expected.
"That is our business plan as we get on close to filling up with tenants, we're going to get another one started and keep them going," Griffin said.
Mayo Clinic spokesman Karl Oestreich said Mayo supports biotech development in Minnesota in general, "including those of (Elk Run venture capitalist G. Steven) Burrill and Co. and Tower Investments."
"These opportunities have the ability to benefit patients, add jobs and create revenue for the state," he said, noting Mayo does not have financial ties to Elk Run "at this time."
Post-Bulletin, By Jeff Hansel, 4/9/2010