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Agensys to expand Santa Monica operations

Construction is set to begin this month on a $95-million development where the biotech firm will manufacture antibodies to fight cancer.

January 08, 2011|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times

Construction is set to begin this month on a $95-million development in Santa Monica where a local biotech company will manufacture antibodies to fight cancer.

The project, which received city approval this week, allows a consolidation and expansion of operations for Agensys Inc. The Santa Monica firm researches and develops new cancer therapies, some of which are in clinical trials.

Agensys will consolidate its office, research, laboratory and manufacturing space in the development at 1800 Stewart St. on land leased from the city. Buildings on the former railroad yard have been used for manufacturing water heaters and, more recently, filming the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," according to real estate broker Jim Jacobsen of Industry Partners.

Part of a steel building on the site once used as a sound stage will be incorporated into the design of the new 160,000-square-foot complex by architect HLW International. The complex, which is expected to be completed by early 2013, will allow Agensys to consolidate to three locations in Santa Monica from six, said Paul Kanan, executive vice president of Agensys.

With the new facility, Agensys expects to boost its workforce to about 300 employees by 2015 from 185 now, Kanan said. "It was the only site that could accommodate what we want to do."

The location was industrialized in the 1870s as a stop on a trolley line connecting Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Pier. Bergamot Station lives on, next to the Agensys site, as an art gallery complex and cultural center.

Agensys took control of the property in a complex transaction that involved buying the ground lease from Houston investment firm Lionstone Group, extending it past 2030 and negotiating a development agreement with the city. Jacobsen helped Lionstone in the deal. Real estate services firm Studley Inc. represented Agensys and will oversee construction of the new building.

Agensys was founded in 1997 and acquired by Japan-based Astellas Pharma Inc. in 2007.

"Our mission is to feed Astellas' pipeline with products," Kanan said.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

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