WORCESTER – It took more than two years and efforts from local and state authorities, but a vacant hospital building will soon start coming down to make way for potential biomanufacturing space.
Business and political officials gathered Thursday at a parking lot off Belmont Street to mark the state’s award of $15 million to the Worcester Business Development Corp. to demolish a 380,000-square-foot structure that was once part of the former Worcester State Hospital.
The Bryan Building dates to 1955 but was shuttered in 2012. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the building and other nearby parcels were among unused state properties that the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker has been working to sell.
“There was a real opportunity to build on the success here in Central Massachusetts of our health care and life science sector and to use this land for a biomanufacturing park,” Ms. Polito said.
Worcester State Hospital was once a sprawling psychiatric treatment campus that sprouted multiple buildings and drew thousands of patients to the hillside overlooking Lake Quinsigamond. But the state built a new, modern facility on the property in recent decades and shuttered other buildings.
The WBDC acquired 44 acres from the state last year and has been quietly clearing away smaller buildings to create parcels, or “pads,” ready for construction. With the Bryan Building, the WBDC will control 46 acres.
Ms. Polito said the $15 million grant to the WBDC involves money the state borrowed for capital projects and will provide over time to the WBDC as it meets specific goals.
WuXi Biologics of China has announced plans to build a biomanufacturing center on the site, involving an investment of $60 million, but the company is still finalizing its agreement with the WBDC and government officials.
Biomanufacturing typically refers to the production of proteins and other molecules used in the testing or sale of drugs, medical devices, diagnostics and services. U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, said it has taken a long time and significant work to build a biotechnology industry in Worcester.
“And over a time, with a great deal of persuasion, the investments have come rolling in from all corners – federal and state and local and private partners provided research funding, infrastructure funding, brownfields funding and a host of other resources that allowed us to make steady and very real progress toward creating a powerhouse biotech cluster right here in Central Massachusetts,” Mr. McGovern said.
The WBDC expects work on the Bryan Building to begin this month and wrap up in about a year. The work is slated to involve disposal of materials such as asbestos and demolition.