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Another giant leap for city science park

Alexandria Life Sciences Center

Roche Pharmaceuticals got a warm welcome to the Big Apple Tuesday, when politicians and corporate executives gathered at the Alexandria Life Sciences Center on 29th Street overlooking the East River to launch the company’s Translational and Clinical Research Center, scheduled to move into the West Tower of the life sciences facility when it opens in January.

The research center will occupy the top two floors of the 17-story tower. The center will start out with about 200 employees and focus on the early development of new drugs, according to Franz Humer, Roche’s chairman and CEO.

Roche announced last year that it would close its 1,000-employee facility in Nutley, N.J. “with a heavy heart,” Humer said.

Nutley was home to the corporation’s U.S. headquarters until it merged with the California-based Genentech in 2009. But the company is committed to maintaining a presence on the East Coast, according to Humer. “The reasons are very clear.

This is, was and will continue to be a major hub of research. Here is where some of the brightest people in the world gather and get together,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Bob Steel spoke on behalf of Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

“Whether it’s film, fashion, tech, tourism, and now healthcare and biotech, having a diversified economy is crucial to the long-term success of New York City,” Steel said.

The ceremony was held in the spacious lobby of the Alexandria Center’s 310,000 s/f East Tower, which opened in 2010 and is fully leased to tenants including Pfizer, Kadamon Pharmaceuticals and two Eli Lilly subsidiaries, Lily Oncology and ImClone systems.

Deputy Mayor Bob Steel. Photo by Sarah Trefethen

The 419,000 s/f West Tower will bring total space in the facility to approximately 728,000 s/f when it opens this winter.

The entire center, which could expand in the future to approximately 1.1 million square feet, is a collaboration between the EDC and Alexandria, whose national portfolio of 161 properties comprises approximately 15.2 million s/f of office and laboratory space.

“We are honored that Roche has chosen the Alexandria Center for Life Science as the home for its Translational and Clinical Research Center,” said Joel S. Marcus, chairman, CEO and founder of Alexandria Real Estate Equities. “New York City has an unparalleled concentration of world-class academic medical research centers and is the ideal platform for Roche to substantially enhance its collaboration and translational clinical efforts.”

Roche’s Nutley facility has been the site of many drug inventions including most famously Valium, the first anti-depressant, as New York State Senator Brad Hoylman reminded the audience at Tuesday’s ceremony.

“I was thinking that the governor of New Jersey needed a valium when he heard he was losing all those jobs,” Hoylman said.

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