AbCellera proposes major office and lab expansion in Mount Pleasant in Vancouver
Kenneth Chan, (DAILY HIVE VANCOUVER) — Plans for AbCellera Biologics’ major footprint expansion in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant Industrial Area are moving forward quickly.
Based on the application submitted this week, the Vancouver-based biotechnology company is proposing to redevelop 110 West 4th Avenue — a half block site at the southwest corner of Manitoba Street and West 4th Avenue, currently occupied by A&B Partytime Rentals — into a 151-ft-tall, nine-storey building with 221,343 sq ft of total floor area.
This additional density through height is being contemplated following city council’s early March 2021 decision that gave city staff the permission to consider a larger scope, given the economic significance of the company and its proposal.
For this same reason, city staff are providing AbCellera with the highly rare, expedited stream of combining the rezoning and development application processes into one.
“The reasons for advancing this quickly are they are rapidly growing and would like to stay in Vancouver, and we would like them to… We’re very glad to have this company in Vancouver and want to provide them with a permanent home, but in order to scale up, the timeframe to produce their therapy [for viruses] is really time sensitive,” Gil Kelley, the now-former chief urban planner of the City of Vancouver, told city council on March 10.
“We want to bring this in advance of the completion of the Broadway Plan because of the time sensitivity, and because it is such a pertinent use for the aspirations that are coming out of both the Vancouver Plan and the Broadway Plan.”
Local developer Beedie and AbCellera are the co-owners of the development, and Francl Architecture is the design firm.
The proposed building is designed to provide state-of-the-art flexible laboratory capabilities, with up to 70% of the floor area dedicated as laboratory, and up to 30% as office and support spaces.
“The flexibility will provide a building that can quickly and economically with minimum disruption to current activities, respond to changing needs of the occupants for changes in science programs, personnel requirements, operational changes, changing equipment and growth/reduction of space needs,” reads the application.
“Integrated plug and play features will provide quick and easy access to the utilities infrastructure as required to support a diverse range of lab requirements throughout the building.”
The building form is described as two blocks, with the massing mostly located on the east side of the property on Manitoba Street. There will be an alternating use of solid panels and “smart glass” for the exterior, with the electro chromic glass capable of changing its tint to control glare and heat.
Workers will have access to landscaped terraces on both the west and east sides of the building, and the building’s rooftop will be a green roof.
Four underground levels will accommodate 268 vehicle parking stalls and 88 bike parking spaces. The floor area ratio is a floor area that is seven times the size of the 30,205 sq ft lot. The permitted height of the site is constrained by View Cone 3.0 emanating from Queen Elizabeth Park.
The west side of the same city block, 150 West 4th Avenue, will also be an expansion office and industrial building for AbCellera. This four-storey office building with 110,000 sq ft of total floor area is currently under construction as a project by Dayhu Group, Lark Group, and ICT Group. Completion is anticipated in 2023.
Together, 110 West 4th Avenue and 150 West 4th Avenue form a campus — the core of AbCellera’s presence in Mount Pleasant.
By the middle of this decade, AbCellera will have four locations in the area, including its current 21,000 sq ft office at 2215 Yukon Street and a new 44,000 sq ft office nearing completion at 2131 Manitoba Street, just south of its future main hub.
AbCellera has gained significant international attention over the past year after it co-developed the first authorized COVID-19 antibody therapy for emergency use in high-risk patients in Canada and the United States.
In late 2020, the company closed a successful initial public offering, bringing in $556 million after selling nearly 28 million shares, far exceeding its original goal of raising $250 million. It was the largest-ever IPO by a Canadian biotech company.
Currently, the company employs 210 people, and it plans to double its workforce by the end of this year. By 2028, it will add over 1,000 people to its workforce, which necessitates the new additional office and laboratory space.
Additionally, AbCellera is also planning to build a clinical-grade, antibody manufacturing facility in Metro Vancouver, funded in part by the $176-million investment it received from the federal government in Spring 2020.
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