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ST. LOUIS-In a move to consolidate several offices and a research lab, food ingredient innovator and manufacturing company the Solae Co. is relocating its global headquarters to a Center of Research Technology and Entrepreneurial Exchange, or Cortex, facility here. The firm will anchor the 246-acre midtown campus with a new multimillion-dollar research center near Boyle Avenue and Forest Park Parkway.

Cortex is a collaboration of major research institutions in the St. Louis area, backed by the region’s business and civic community. Anchor institutions include: Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Those institutions have pledged $29 million during five years to develop research space to retain startup biotech companies and attract larger biotech companies to the city.

“We see it as a natural fit for our business,” David Narkiewicz, Solae corporate and commercial in-house counsel, tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s a prominent location in the Midwest, and someday it will become a national campus for cutting-edge biotech research. We like the energy and synergy we’ll obtain from being in a biotech corridor.”

Although the lease agreement is still in preliminary stages, Narkiewicz says the company will occupy approximately 165,000 sf for at least 15 years. As for the reason behind the relocation, Narkiewicz says the company’s current leases expire in 2008, and “we could stay where we are, but it wasn’t clear to us if we would have that flexibility,” he says. “This was a great opportunity to consolidate and build-to-suit our needs.”

Further solidifying Solae’s decision to relocate, the City of St. Louis and Cortex put forth a package of tax incentives, including new market tax credits and a tax abatement. Narkiewicz could not disclose details of the incentives, saying the particulars were still being finalized.

While the benefit of moving to Cortex is significant for Solae’s office and research efficiency structure, Narkiewicz says the complex is also profiting from the lease. “They have been trying for Cortex to get off the ground for three years,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “Initially, they wanted stable startup companies that would remain there after they became successful. We are a billion-dollar business that’s already established. They were trying to hit single and doubles, and they’ve hit a homerun by getting Solae.”

Locally based Clayco will serve as the developer and general contractor and manage the project’s design and construction. Cannon Design has been chosen as the programmer, planner, designer and architect of record, and the Benham Group will provide process-engineering consultation.

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