WBDC demolishes hospital for WuXi potential biomanufacturing centre

Worcester Business Development Corp has received $15m from the state to demolish the 380,000 sqft section of a vacant hospital in Massachusetts

Officials at the press conference showing a potential floorplan of the facility

Worcester Business Development Corp (WBDC) will be tearing down a vacant hospital building in central Massachusettes to make way for biomanufacturing space. Worcester's first master-planned biomanufacturing park has been named "The Reactory".

Business and political officials gathered at a parking lot off Belmont Street to mark the state's award of US$15 million to the WBDC to demolish a 380,000 sqft structure that was once part of the former Worcester State Hospital.

WuXi Biologics of China has announced plans to build a biomanufacturing centre on the site, involving an investment of $60m, but the company is still finalising its agreement with the WBDC and government officials.

"There was a real opportunity to build on the success here in Central Massachusetts of our health care and life science sector and to use this land for a biomanufacturing park," Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said.

Ex-hospital

The Bryan Building dates to 1955 but was shuttered in 2012. Polito said the building and other nearby parcels were among unused state properties that the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker has been working to sell.

The WBDC acquired 44 acres from the state last year and has been quietly clearing away smaller buildings to create parcels, or "pads," ready for construction. With the Bryan Building, the WBDC will control 46 acres.

Polito said the $15m grant to the WBDC involves money the state borrowed for capital projects and will provide over time to the WBDC as it meets specific goals.

Biomanufacturing typically refers to the production of proteins and other molecules used in the testing or sale of drugs, medical devices, diagnostics and services. US Rep. James P McGovern, D-Worcester, said it has taken a long time and significant work to build a biotechnology industry in Worcester.

"And over a time, with a great deal of persuasion, the investments have come rolling in from all corners - federal and state and local and private partners provided research funding, infrastructure funding, brownfields funding and a host of other resources that allowed us to make steady and very real progress toward creating a powerhouse biotech cluster right here in Central Massachusetts," Mr. McGovern said.

The WBDC expects work on the Bryan Building to begin this month and wrap up in about a year. The work is slated to involve disposal of materials such as asbestos and demolition.

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