Building gets new life as research, lab space
Courier Times
November 7, 2008


A Doylestown development company Friday showcased the first 50,000 square feet of research and laboratory space it has set up at one of the former Rohm and Haas buildings it owns in Bristol Township.

Bucks County Community College is the Bridge Business Center's first contracted tenant. Starting in January, the college will use 3,500 square feet of space for chemistry classrooms and labs. Friday's open house was designed to lure more corporate tenants. "We've done the exterior and we've done site work, the common areas, a conference room," said Rob Loughery of Doylestown's Keystone Redevelopment Group LLC. But since each space will be built to the tenants' specific needs, Loughery said, Keystone wants to sign up additional tenants before refinishing other sections of two buildings, which total 170,000 square feet.

Redeveloping the site as laboratory space for the life science industry was an easy call for Keystone, said Loughery. The field is growing in the Philadelphia region, he said, and it is much cheaper and easier to renovate a former laboratory than to establish one in a building that had been used for some other purpose.

"It is expensive to build lab space," said Loughery, who estimated it would have cost twice as much to start from scratch. "Here we can take former research laboratories and reclaim them." State Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-6, whose district includes Bristol Township, said he was pleased to learn that the site would bring new jobs to Lower Bucks County and incorporate green technologies, including solar and geothermal energy sources.

"This is almost a double win," Tomlinson said. "It's a great opportunity and it's perfect timing." The property is also located in a Keystone Innovation Zone where companies can receive tax benefits and state assistance designed to spur economic development. Keystone would also be eligible for grants to help fund the renewable energy portion of its work, Tomlinson said.

Bucks County Community College's Barbara Miller said the Bridge Business Center was a good place to set up shop because of its proximity to its new campus on Route 413. She said that traditional classes would be held there.

"We were running out of room," said Miller, vice president of continuing education, workforce development and public safety at BCCC. But continuing education and workforce development classes will also be held there. Some new non-credit courses could even be developed to meet the needs of local chemical companies, like Rohm and Haas, Arkema and Rhodia, all of which are a short walk from the Bridge Business Center.

Tomlinson represents Bensalem, Bristol Township, Bristol, Middletown, Langhorne, Langhorne Manor, Lower Southampton, Penndel, Hulmeville, Northampton, Wrightstown, Ivyland and Warwick.

John Anastasi can be reached at 215-949-4170 or janastasi@phillyBurbs.com.

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