Albany Molecular Research Inc.’s move into Buffalo remains delayed, but a state official is optimistic that the drug-development company will be up and running by April in temporary space on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
The $250 million project announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in December 2012 was scheduled to open a small-scale operation by early February in the Jacobs Institute. But arranging a lease and remodeling the lab space have taken longer than expected.
Once ready, AMRI plans to have 25 employees working in Buffalo on a major pharmaceutical contract, a source told The Buffalo News.
“We’re confident they’ll be able to move in the next couple of weeks,” said Alain E. Kaloyeros, senior vice president and CEO of SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, whose office has played a leading role in the project.
In a related development, the NanoCollege on Wednesday finalized a contract with Ciminelli Real Estate, the developer behind the Medical Campus building, for the permanent home of AMRI and its partner companies.
The drug-development project will take up one floor of Ciminelli’s Conventus building, with the state paying $10 million toward the construction costs and $40 million for cutting-edge lab equipment. State and Ciminelli officials said the Conventus space will be ready to use by January.
“It’s a very exciting project,” said Dennis M. Penman, Ciminelli Real Estate’s executive vice president. “They’re going to attract other high-technology companies, not just to our building but to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.”
The project, anchored by AMRI, was unveiled in December 2012, with the state pledging $50 million from its Buffalo Billion pot of economic-development aid to build and outfit a high-tech, drug-discovery center.
Officials from AMRI, the state and the Medical Campus spent the last year trying to figure out where on the campus AMRI and its partners would operate temporarily and permanently.
After considering a host of locations, officials told The News in December that AMRI and a company identified by sources as PerkinElmer, a supplier of equipment used in the drug-discovery process, would move into temporary space in the Jacobs Institute and, later, permanent space in Conventus.
The Jacobs Institute, located on one floor of the University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Research Center, 875 Ellicott St., fosters partnerships and connections among UB, Kaleida Health, physicians and medical companies. The building also houses Gates Vascular Institute.
The Jacobs Institute was appealing as a temporary host for AMRI because the cost of preparing the space for AMRI would be minimal.
The short-term space was expected to open by early February, but AMRI, NanoCollege, UB and Jacobs Institute officials took longer to work out liability language in the lease for the space, to figure out precisely where AMRI would go and to determine what remodeling would be required, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
UB officials could not immediately provide more information.
Jacobs Institute officials declined comment on the project.
The parties this week agreed to a plan that meets AMRI’s needs for about 1,145 square feet of lab and office space within the institute, according to a document from SUNY’s Fort Schuyler Management Corp. obtained by The News.
About 25 AMRI employees should move in by April. The company is eager to get started in Buffalo because it recently won a contract from a major pharmaceutical firm and it plans to perform that work here.
AMRI will move on its own into the temporary Jacobs Institute space. While the equipment supplier – identified previously as PerkinElmer – initially was expected to move in with AMRI, Kaloyeros said AMRI instead will take up all of the available space. AMRI’s partners may join the drug-discovery company in the Conventus building or in other space in Buffalo.
Fort Schuyler Management and a Ciminelli Real Estate entity named Conventus Manager LLC formally agreed to the contract for the state to build and equip an entire floor of Conventus for the drug-development partners, Kaloyeros and Penman said. “It’s a great milestone,” Kaloyeros said.
AMRI and its partners are expected to hire 250 workers for the project, which will take up all 48,000 square feet on the seventh floor of Conventus, now being built by LP Ciminelli at 1001 Main St., between Goodrich and High.
AMRI has a “very aggressive” schedule, and Ciminelli Real Estate most recently met with company and SUNY officials Tuesday to look at the latest design drawings for the drug-development center, Penman said.
“They’re very sensitive to the employee experience,” he said, and AMRI wants to showcase the center’s high-tech features to prospective clients and partners.