Friday, September 26, 2014

Massachusetts Pharmaceutical Company Coming To Oconee County Gateway Business Park

Company Began At UGA

A Massachusetts biopharmaceutical company with roots at the University of Georgia has signed a lease for two buildings being completed at Gateway Technology and Business Park in Bogart.

One of the two buildings will be used for production and the other for research, according to plans distributed Monday to the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority, which developed the park and sold the 12-acre site to Rooker Properties LLC last year.

Two New Bogart Plants

Synageva BioPharma Corp., with headquarters in Lexington, Mass., entered into a lease for the property in October of last year, according to documents filed on Feb. 21 of this year with Angela Elder-Johnson, clerk of the Oconee County Superior Court.

Rusty Haygood, Oconee County economic development director, said today he does not know when Synageva plans to begin operation of the plant but that interior work on the two buildings is underway.

Synageva has not yet applied for water or sewer service, according to Chris Thomas, director of the Oconee County Utility Department, but water and sewer lines are at the site.

UGA Incubated

Synageva seeks to provide “breakthrough medicines globally for patients suffering from rare, devastating diseases,” according to the company web site.

The company was created in 2008 from AviGenics, Inc., according to the Synageva web site. AviGenics was founded in 1996 and incubated at the University of Georgia.

Robert Ivarie, an emeritus professor in the UGA Department of Genetics, played a key roll in the founding of AviGenics. Ivarie lives in Watkinsville.

Synageva is operating locally out of a facility at the corner of South Milledge Avenue and Whitehall Road. That property is owned by the university, according to county tax records.

No Information Released

I called the Milledge Avenue facility this morning and asked about the activities there, but the person who answered the phone refused to provide any information.

She said someone from the company would call me back and answer my questions, but no one returned the call.

The name of the tenant for the Rooker buildings was not mentioned at a called meeting of the IDA on Monday and has not been released publicly. The meeting on Monday was to make a minor change in the covenants for the Gateway park.

Synageva filed a second document in the Clerk Elder-Johnson’s office on March 17 of this year specifying Synageva’s lease obligations in reference to a nearly $3 million loan held by the property owner. The amount of the loan can be increased or decreased, according to the document.

The land is owned by RP Gateway LLC, which is registered at 445 Bishop Street in Atlanta, the same address as Rooker.

New Road

The two buildings constructed by Rooker for Synageva are at the end of newly built Gateway East Parkway, which intersects McNutt Creek Road between SR 316 and Aikin Road on the southwestern edge of Bogart.

Each building is just more than 35,000 square feet in size.

The county agreed in July of last year to pay $250,000 to Rooker to build Gateway East Parkway after the county received a Georgia Department of Transportation grant of $172,000 to pay for the bulk of the cost.

The county, through its Industrial Development Authority, paid the remaining $75,674 from the money it earned from the sale of the property to Rooker.

The IDA agreed in June of 2013 to sell Rooker the 12 acres in the Gateway park for $300,000.

Sewer Pretreatment

Utility Department Director Thomas told me this morning that sewage from the Synageva facility will flow via gravity to the county’s Land Application Site on Rocky Branch Road for treatment.

Thomas said he does not believe pretreatment of waste will be required “from what has been described to us so far.”

Thomas said the county would review the details of discharge before the plant starts operation.

If pretreatment is required, the state will handle the details, he said.

Haygood Leaving

Economic Director Haygood told me this afternoon that he did not know if Synageva intends to continue to operate its facility on the UGA campus.

Haygood has worked closely with the county and the IDA on the sale of the property to Rooker. An unnamed pharmaceutical company was identified as a potential tenant in the first public discussions of the project.

Haygood will be leaving county employment on Oct. 10 to begin working in economic development with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The announcement of Haygood’s departure was sent out to county staff late on Tuesday.

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