By MARTY LEVINE
The Board of Trustees’ Property and Facilities Committee has approved the purchase for $10 million of three acres of land along the Monongahela River in the Hazelwood Green site that will house BioForge, “a planned cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility to be constructed and owned by the University,” the resolution said.
The move drew a rare “no” vote from one trustee, commercial real estate executive John H. Pelusi Jr. — not for the project itself, but for a right of first offer that is part of the purchase deal, which gives developer Tishman Speyer HG Developer, LLC, several months to accept or refuse Pitt’s purchase offer when it is made.
“I am opposed solely and only due to the right of first offer,” said Pelusi, executive managing director and head of National Healthcare Practice at Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP. “I fully support the initiative and program. I believe it has significant potential issues down the road, so for that reason I am voting no.”
A University spokesperson, asked to provide more details, would only add that “everything remains under negotiation and there are no fixed terms (for the land purchase) at this time. The University signed a letter of intent with Tishman Speyer and will negotiate a purchase and sale agreement next.”
The announcement of the project in September noted that it will be funded by a $100 million Richard King Mellon Foundation grant, turning a former steel mill and brownfield into a site for medical innovations that will be an economic spur for this part of Pittsburgh.
The purchase of the property will be funded by the School of Medicine with assistance from the Richard King Mellon Foundation grant.
The resolution passed in December said that BioForge “will be designed to help define Pittsburgh as an international leader in biotherapeutics by attracting industry, entrepreneurs, and investors, stimulating economic growth while creating lifesaving, life-enhancing therapies for our region and the world,” and that “the project will bring economic and educational opportunities to Greater Hazelwood and the region through local partnerships and community-centered economic development strategies as well as contribute to the creation of a robust platform for attracting, retaining and educating a diverse and talented workforce.”
The design and construction of the facility will require future approvals, the resolution also noted.
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-758-4859.
Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.