Pine Island issues first building permit for $1 billion Elk Run venture
By Jeff Hansel
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Construction jobsfor confirmed projects starting this summer in Pine Island include:
3 to 5 at a new warehouse
10 for a remodeled Kwik Trip
15 to 20 on the Pine Island street project
50 to 60 at the highway interchange to serve Elk Run
20 to 25 for the first Elk Run building
Total:98 to 120
(Source: Abraham Algadi, Pine Island city administrator)
PINE ISLAND -- A $6 million building at the Elk Run biobusiness park in Pine Island should begin to rise within weeks.
Advocates of the bold $1 billion effort to construct, and draw businesses to, the park believe the first building will start a "chain reaction" of construction, jobs and spending as workers stop to buy meals, gasoline and other products.
"We did issue the building permit for the first building at the bioscience park at Elk Run," Pine Island City Administrator Abraham Algadi told the Post-Bulletin late Thursday.
Life-science venture capital group Burrill and Company founder G. Steven Burrill has said that some people call him "nuts" for proposing such a bold project literally in the middle of a field. Others, he said, believe he's innovative for recognizing the potential of a site located between Mayo Clinic in Rochester and the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.
Elk Run is also just 61 miles by highway from the Lindbergh terminal at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport and 26 miles from the Rochester airport.
Algadi said a "biomedical business" will be the first occupant of 8,000 square feet in the 50,400-square-foot building.
"I do not know if they are like a start-up, if they are commercialized already, and they are moving here for whatever reason. The only thing I know is they are a biomedical company. I don't know what stage they are, how established they are, or what kind of product," Algadi said.
He said Burrill and Tower want to let the company make its own announcement "and I don't know whether that's part of their lease." The first company, he said, will occupy a few "stalls" (8,000 square feet) of the building.
Algadi said the building permit issued has a six-month time limit, meaning the building must be complete by Dec. 31, 2010, unless a reasonable construction delay occurs. The city expects to issue an occupancy permit by that date, meaning "at least one company, but there could very well be more" will be moving into the building by early 2011 or before.
Algadi said a chain reaction of jobs, more buildings and companies will be triggered by the first building — and by construction of a new U.S. 52 interchange at County Road 12. Sources have previously said that 14 or 15 buildings should be finished within the next five years at Elk Run.
Once traffic flows at the new interchange, construction of new buildings will, too, Algadi said.
"I would expect a lot more. There's going to be a lot more than one," he said. "Tower and Steve Burrill are aggressively pursuing and packaging all kinds of deals."
Health reporter Jeff Hansel (285-7615) writes a blog Pulse on Health at www.postbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffHansel.