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Leaders at the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development have scaled back a planned bioscience project and canceled new building construction in order to speed up the implementation process and because of a lack of local industry.
“The cluster just wasn’t mature enough to support that,” said Virginia Beach Economic Director Taylor Adams.
The city planned to begin construction on the 60,000-square-foot building — the first at the long-planned VABeachBio Innovation Park on Princess Anne Road — in the late summer or early fall of 2018, according to Virginian-Pilot reporting.
When Adams took over the economic development director position in late 2018, he elected to speed up the process by amending plans with Olympia Development, which was slated to build the office and lab. The department instead built out 5,700 square feet of space in an existing Olympia building near Virginia Beach Town Center.
After researching the local biosciences sector and the industry at large, Taylor said his team realized startup companies simply wouldn’t need that much space to operate. However, he still thinks there’s a future for the 155-acre Innovation Park plot, as companies organically grow from the accelerator program.
Meanwhile, the city has allowed the property to be used for other industries. Ynot Italian plans to construct a 45,000-square-foot corporate headquarters office building on 6 acres of land. That space will include about 35,000 square feet of space for other tenants.
Adams said he had hoped that agricultural bioengineering in particular might one day take hold in Virginia Beach, referencing the area’s farming roots and the recent announcement of a $60 million greenhouse facility from Sunny Farms.
“This is a place where we have an opportunity to embrace who we are as a community, and pair it with technology in ways that’s productive for our economy,” he said.
Trevor Metcalfe, 757-222-5345, email@example.com