Saturday, September 23, 2023

Virginia Beach 155 acres closer to biomedical park

(Courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)

Virginia Beach is 155 acres closer to its proposed biomedical research park.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to transfer that amount of land in Princess Anne Commons to the city’s Development Authority. After formally accepting it later this month, the authority will install utilities and pave the way for scientists to do “translational research” there on diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, brain injuries and neurosciences.

The hope is that the research “translates” into commercial revenue, according to Warren Harris, the city’s economic development director. The research park idea stems from a task force Mayor Will Sessoms set up in 2014 and from statewide interest in commercializing the biomedical industry.

The park is expected to be a magnet for companies in the early phases of their research — work the city hopes will eventually turn into big sales, Harris told the City Council Tuesday.

At least three developers have expressed interest in investing in and building the site, Harris said, adding the challenge to convince those parties has been to find tenants.

But that the city is “slowly” finding them, he said.

A bio-company from Madison, Wis., and at least two other research groups are in talks about locating in the planned park, Harris said. MedImmune, a Maryland-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology company with revenue in the billions of dollars, could play a major role in drawing interest from developers and other businesses, he said. Officials from that company, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca, spent four hours meeting with city staff in February, Harris said.

They “left very impressed with what’s here and what can be achieved here,” he said.

To spread that impression further, staff will head to the U.K. this month and to San Diego in May to explore commercial opportunities for the park, Harris said. Those efforts will culminate at an international bio-conference in San Francisco.

Designs are underway for the park, which will be built on a slice of the 1,192 acres known as Lake Ridge that the city acquired in 1995 . And funds have been allocated, but there is plenty of work left, Harris said, adding he will provide the council with quarterly updates.

Have a story idea or news tip? Contact City Hall reporter Judah Taylor at or 757-490-2750.

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