PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — In early 2012, officials plan to unveil a prominent building that represents what Port St. Lucie hopes to become.
On Feb. 29, Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida is slated to open its new 100,000-square-foot facility in the Tradition Center for Innovation after a little more than a year of construction. The $47 million building could get is certificate of occupancy on Jan. 10 if all goes well.
The state-of-the-art building is visible from Interstate 95 and will be one of the centerpieces of plans by area officials to create a dynamic research component to the Treasure Coast economy.
The VGTI building is not the typical office suite because of the specifications required for research, VGTI Facilities Manager Jim Rizzi said. The building is designed for research and includes systems to maintain precise humidity levels and air flow. The rooms are flexible to cater to future needs.
"I want the community to know what we do here, be comfortable with that," Rizzi said. "This is a great thing for St. Lucie County and Port St. Lucie."
The building sits just south of the home of fellow nonprofit Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies off Gatlin Boulevard. Torrey Pines has a $40 million building, where VGTI employees currently work. The structure includes three stories for employees and a penthouse that holds equipment to keep the building operating.
"We're on schedule, we're under budget," Rizzi said.
VGTI was introduced to Florida in 2008 after negotiations with the state, city and county on a $117.8 million package. The city's contribution mainly included infrastructure such as roads, sewer and water lines.
The city also helped VGTI by allowing the nonprofit to save $1.5 million in interest through revenue bonds approved in April, 2010.
VGTI has about 65 employees and is contracted to have 200 in 2018.
Port St. Lucie approved $66 million in revenue bonds for the project in April 2010. The bonds saved VGTI about $1.5 million in interest per year for the 30-year life of the bonds.
The groundbreaking for the building took place on Oct. 20, 2010. Whiting-Turner Life Sciences has served as the general contractor for the VGTI building. About 65 percent of the trades groups working on the project are local trades, Rizzi said and 525 people have worked on the project. Construction is about $1.6 million under budget, he said.
"We've had really good trades here," Rizzi said. "I think a lot of it is the result of the economy. We've got some of the best tradesmen on the site. The quality of work has been phenomenal."
The Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida is preparing to unveil its new facility. Here's a look at some facts:
Location: 9801 S.W. Discovery Way, Port St. Lucie
Groundbreaking: Oct. 20, 2010
Projected date for certificate of occupancy: Jan. 10
Grand opening: Feb. 29
Size: 68 feet tall, 382 feet long, about 80 feet wide
Projected workers: 525
Cost: About $47 million
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