Jennifer Thomas, Staff Writer
The N.C. Research Campus will add 3,000 square feet of speculative lab space to meet growing demand at the Kannapolis biotech hub.
Plans call for two 1,500-square-foot wet labs to be built on the third floor of the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory.
The research campus has commitments for roughly 80 percent of that space, which will be available in the first quarter of 2014, says Clyde Higgs, vice president of business development for the N.C. Research Campus and campus developer Castle & Cooke North Carolina.
“It seems like there’s some significant pent-up demand for this type of infrastructure,” he says.
He declines to reveal tenant names but says he envisions a mix that includes startups, big companies and universities.
“We’re very excited about this upcoming mix of researchers — this is a milestone for us,” Higgs says. “We’ve always wanted to have a diverse mix of organizations here on campus.”
The 350-acre research campus focuses on health, nutrition and agriculture, but the goal is to attract innovative companies and forward thinkers, he says.
Spec labs provide an opportunity to do so, while offering flexibility for tenants, Higgs adds. One company could take an entire unit or it could be divided among as many as three tenants. Space could be rented for as short a period as 12 months.
Higgs declines to provide specifics about lease rates or Castle & Cooke’s investment in the labs.
Last November, officials announced plans for a 1,500-square-foot lab suite, with plans to build additional capacity, based on demand. Facilities include administrative areas, bench tops, fume hoods, sinks and storage.
Those three units will open next month, with tenants including General Mills Inc., Carolinas Medical Center and a startup biotech company that is developing a diagnostic product for diabetes.
Higgs remains “cautiously optimistic” that momentum is building at the research campus as the economy improves. More companies have expressed interest about working with campus partners or considering space at the biotech hub in recent months, he says.
Higgs doesn’t rule out further spec lab capacity in the future.
The research campus includes more than 1 million square feet of lab and office space. It is home to operations of eight N.C. universities and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, as well as private companies such as General Mills, Monsanto Co., LabCorp and Dole Foods Inc.