BioMarin partners with local senior center for new laboratory expansion project

BioMarin is proposing three new buildings at the former PG&E site, with two for R&D and offices, and one combining housing and a senior center. (Pixabay)

BioMarin Pharmaceutical has teamed up with a local senior center in San Rafael, California, to advance a development project that would turn an old environmental cleanup site downtown into new laboratory and office space, as well as provide affordable housing and an activities center for the elderly.

The rare disease pharmaceutical company has submitted designs to the city for the expansion, proposing three new buildings: two for BioMarin’s R&D and general offices, plus a five-story building combining housing and the senior center, to be run by the non-profit Whistlestop.

BioMarin did not disclose the planned costs for its share of the new construction, located a five-minute walk from the company’s headquarters in San Rafael, with both about eight miles away from its manufacturing offices in nearby Novato.


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Before BioMarin took possession of the lot—formerly home to a Pacific Gas & Electric manufacturing plant for decades—tens of thousands of cubic yards of contaminated soil were removed and trucked away, during a year-long cleanup project under a fully-enclosed tent, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

After the city’s design review phase, the two companies plan to submit a full construction application in September, Whistlestop CEO Joe O’Hehir told the San Francisco Business Times. “We needed a new location. They needed to show community benefit,” O’Hehir told the Business Times, describing the pairing that first launched in 2016.

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