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NEW YORK CITY-The long-stymied emergence of a commercial bioscience sector here got a boost Wednesday as ImClone Systems signed a 15-year lease to become the first tenant at the forthcoming East River Science Park. With 91,000 square feet, plus another 9,000 square feet of core services space, ImClone will anchor the ERSP’s first building, CB Richard Ellis’ John S. Isaacs tells GlobeSt.com.

A wholly owned-subsidiary of Eli Lilly, which acquired it last year for $6.5 billion, ImClone has been based in New York City for a quarter century. What brought it to the ERSP, Isaacs says, was the opportunity to be part of a hub of bioscience research. The 3.7-acre site, being developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, is located between Bellevue Hospital and New York University Medical Center, and near a cluster of other major medical and academic research centers.

Of course, the current leasing environment helped matters. “This is a great time to be a tenant,” says Isaacs, who with fellow CBRE EVP Timothy Dempsey of the company’s consulting division represented ImClone in negotiations.

He says one scenario considered by ImClone, currently headquartered at 180 Varick St., was to shift all of its operations to Branchburg, NJ, where it has a manufacturing facility. But incentives from the Bloomberg administration helped steer the biopharmaceutical subsidiary toward the ERSP and keep it in New York City.

“New York City has always been at the forefront of scientific innovation, but the City has never fully capitalized on its assets to create a thriving commercial bioscience industry and the jobs that come with it,” says Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a release. “We joined with Alexandria Real Estate Equities to create the East River Science Park to provide today’s bioscience companies with the state-of-the-art commercial lab space they need to locate and expand.”

ImClone’s R&D center will occupy four floors of the ERSP’s 310,000-square-foot first tower, which is scheduled to be ready for occupancy by next summer. Initially, the anchor tenant will bring 125 researchers and has plans to expand. Ultimately, the ERSP will encompass three buildings totaling about 1.1 million square feet. It’s the first New York City project for Pasadena, CA-based Alexandria, which has developed biotech centers in California and Massachusetts, among other life science markets.

The city is providing about $13.4 million in capital funds for the construction of the ERSP. The state is providing another $27 million to be used for infrastructure work in connection with the project, and Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer is contributing $500,000 to the project. Additionally, the New York City Investment Fund, the economic development arm of the Partnership for New York City, is kicking in $15 million to be used for tenant improvements. About $2 million in additional federal funds have also been secured for the project.

To help spur the development of a commercial life sciences sector here, the state legislature recently passed a bill allowing the City to create a $3-million biotech tax credit. The credit is intended to help a start-up firm equip a lab, train technicians and fund access to high-tech equipment. It will be limited to small firms engaged in research and development that meet New York State standards as qualified emerging technology companies.

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