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PALM BEACH, FL-The Palm Beach County Commission has awarded marketing of Phase I, an initial 163 acres of the approximately 1,920-acre Palm Beach County Bioscience Research Park, to CB Richard Ellis. Patricia Ardigo, VP and group leader of CBRE’s life science group, who is located in Stamford, CT, heads the marketing team. Robert Smith, VP in the local office, and Michael Klotz, first VP, and Jeffrey Hartsook, associate in the Miami office, will handle day-to-day brokerage.

The research park is the outcome of the state and county’s long-running efforts to bring a new division of La Jolla, CA-based Scripps Research Institute here. The county acquired the 1,920-acre Mecca Farms former citrus grove west of Palm Beach Gardens off Northlake Boulevard for $60 million, a decision that remains under litigation from environmental groups, although some of the suits have been resolved in favor of the county.

The state is providing Scripps with $310 million in incentives, and the county is adding approximately $200 million to the incentive package. The county commission has turned over a portion of the site to Scripps for construction of a 364,000-sf biotech research facility that has an estimated construction cost of about $112 million.

Overall plans call for a multi-use development that will be dedicated primarily to science and technology, biotechnology, biomedical and related R&D industries. Additional uses include a satellite university campus, a residential component with a range of housing types for the park’s eventual work force, retail, restaurants, a hospital, hotel and community facilities, including parks, recreation venues, utilities and other public services.

Klotz confirms to GlobeSt.com that the country is providing CBRE with a $150,000 marketing budget. He declines to discuss commissions, but, according to public records, in summary, CBRE will receive a 4% commission on agreements of $5 million or less. The commission rate decreases with deals of higher value, and, if other brokers are involved, the total commission will be 5% of the value of the deal, split among the brokers.

Klotz says CBRE has “given the county some pricing guidelines for the land, but the county has not set pricing yet.” CBRE and others, he adds, have also submitted potential names for the research park to the county. None of the CBRE suggestions are related to prospective buyers, he says.

“We do have prospects,” he says, affirming that CBRE is casting a global net. Members of the team have been in discussions “with chambers of commerce in Europe that have biotech clusters, for example. It’s all about the science,” he says. “The magnet is what Scripps is doing in terms of science, which drives interest among companies wanting to collaborate with its development of basic science.

“There are a variety of marketing scenarios,” Klotz continues. “Companies can take a long-term lease on land for building a facility; a JV can be formed between a research firm and developer that will build for them after which they become a tenant; a developer can buy land for spec R&D building; and also there’s potential for build-to-suit construction.”

CBRE formed its life science group four years ago. “Marketing the park requires targeting a niche industry with very specific needs,” Ardigo says. “We have the platform, connections and experience to reach these companies, and have already begun a marketing strategy.”

In a statement expressing confidence in the CBRE team’s capabilities, Shannon LaRocque, Scripps manager for Palm Beach County, says, “Finding biotech companies to locate here takes more than placing an ad in the paper and saying ‘come to Mecca’.”

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