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January 29, 2020

Game-changer: Major bioscience incubator project planned for downtown

IMAGE | Courtesy Elkus Manfredi Architects. Architect’s rendering of planned 101 College Street project.

A prominent developer is proposing to build 500,000 square feet of laboratory and life-sciences incubation space in downtown New Haven. 

Winstanley Enterprises LLC of Concord, Mass. plans a major development at an address that does not today exist: 101 College Street.

“We are planning a project, and there is a real need for additional lab space in town,” Winstanley principal Carter Winstanley said. “It is a project we are incredibly excited about.”

The official project launch would follow upon completion of a development agreement between the city, the developer and the state, which owns the land on which the new building would be constructed. That agreement is still in negotiation, according to people involved in the project.

In addition, any development would need to be reviewed and approved by city land use boards and officials before it could proceed.

The 500,000-square-foot 101 College Street project would house approximately 100,000 square feet of incubator space for life-sciences enterprises that have advanced beyond the bare-bones (one or two employees) startup stage and have begun to hire workers who need more laboratory and office space to grow their companies.

Much of the remainder of the space in the building would be conventional office and meeting space for general use.

Preliminary renderings for the 101 College Street project were developed by Elkus Manfredi Architects of Boston.

The project is being developed by Winstanley, which has assembled financing partners and would own the real estate. The incubator would be managed by a third-party operator, which in addition to serving as a leasing agent and property manager would provide services such as educational programming and regular networking opportunities both to resident companies and individual researchers and potential employees.

The site is across College Street from one of Winstanley’s other well-known developments in the city. Winstanley also developed the 513,000-square-foot Class A life-sciences building completed for Alexion Pharmaceuticals in 2015 at 100 College St. Like that existing structure, the proposed 101 College would also be constructed atop the existing Rt. 34 connector. The real estate is owned by the state of Connecticut.

The project site, with the Alexion Pharmaceuticals building at 100 College St. in the background. PHOTO / New Haven BIZ

“We’ve been working with Carter Winstanley since the middle of last year under a memorandum of understanding,” said Michael Piscitelli, the city’s economic development administrator. “This is an opportunity to coordinate and see if we can pull a project together in conjunction with Downtown Crossing Phase 2 and Phase 3.

“That coordination is not complete,” Piscitelli added. “We’re still working through a number of issues, but hopefully we can get those resolved and pull the project together.”

Once a development agreement is finalized between Winstanley and the city, the project will require approval from the Board of Alders and the state Department of Economic & Community Development.

A view of the Rt. 34 connector. The 101 College St. project would be built over it. PHOTO / New Haven BIZ

The New Haven area has become a hub for young, growing bioscience companies, which are working to develop treatments for various ailments, from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease to spinal-cord injuries. 

Science Park on Winchester Avenue in New Haven is home to many of the region’s bioscience companies, including Arvinas, Cybrexa and Artificial Cell Technologies. Beginning in 2007 Winstanley has also been instrumental in the redevelopment of Science Park, in particular 25 Science Park as well as rehab projects at 275 and 344 Winchester Avenue.

Area bioscience company leaders have indicated that they need more room to grow, and that adequate space has been hard to find for both start-ups and expanding companies. Places like Science Park and 300 George Street are at or close to full occupancy.

Without new options, company leaders have said they may have to look out of state to find the space they need.

John S. Traynor, executive vice president and chief investment officer for People’s United Bank, discussed the project at a New Haven Manufacturers Association’s 2020 Economic Outlook meeting last Thursday.

“If you’re a young researcher: here’s 10,000 [square feet] of lab space — go to work. If that works, you can go from the third floor to the fifth floor, and now you’ve got 25,000 square feet. They’re doing this to create a [self-contained] ecosystem there to grow your business in that building. And then, if it really takes off, come up to [e.g.] Hamden and build a real company.”

“What’s key to New Haven is not just Yale and a couple of researchers; it’s all the schools and all the businesses [that together] build an ecosystem,” Traynor said. And its developers hope 101 College can become the hub of that ecosystem.

Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce President Garrett Sheehan said the project would be "transformative for New Haven."

"It will advance our bioscience cluster, but it will also be a bridge between our business community, technology, (Yale) University, and the medical district," Sheehan said. "It will be a shining new front door to New Haven, showcasing the city and innovation.”

Dawn Hocevar, president and CEO at BioCT, a New Haven-based not-for-profit organization that is working to grow the bioscience industry in Connecticut, called this College Street proposal, along with another in the works on Munson Street “the most promising projects to date” for addressing the lab space problem.

“They are very needed and would be very beneficial to our growing industry space needs,” Hocevar said.

In October, Winchester Partners, a joint venture of Twining Properties, L+M Development Partners and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, acquired Higher One’s corporate headquarters in New Haven’s Science Park at Yale. The joint venture is branding the 115 Munson St. property as “Winchester Works,” with a mix of traditional office and laboratory space.

The 101 College project is taking place in tandem with the city’s Downtown Crossing redevelopment initiative. That three-phase project began with the development of 100 College Street, completed in 2016. Last fall construction was begun on Phase 2, the reconnection of Orange Street to South Orange Street across the existing Rt. 34 connector.

Phase 3 of Downtown Crossing is the extension of Temple Street from George Street to Vingress Avenue. Construction of that final phase is slated to begin before the end of 2020.

“This is a great opportunity for New Haven to really unlock its potential in the biosciences,” Piscitelli said.

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