Arrowhead Pharma map

A map of the proposed Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals facility in Verona Technology Park.

A pharmaceutical company is planning to build a $200 million facility in Verona Technology Park.

It would start with a 102,000 square foot, three-story building next year located east of the University of Wisconsin’s Materials Distribution facility and Ceva, formerly known as United Vaccines. Plans submitted to the city this month call for a future expansion on the 13 acre site of an 82,000 square foot manufacturing facility further north. That would be brought to the city for approval “in the coming months,” according to the submission.

The city’s Plan Commission is scheduled to discuss the initial proposal at its next meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4.

Arrowhead associate counsel Bob Tiegen told the Press the company, which specializes in genetic treatment of rare diseases, expects to bring about 250 jobs initially, averaging about five times the minimum wage, with most requiring bachelor’s degrees. 

Construction costs, he said, would be $175 million to $250 million. That’s a seemingly exorbitant amount -- about four times what a typical commercial facility goes for per square foot -- because of its specialized equipment. 

The plan also involves a city investment of some sort, through tax-increment financing, city administrator Adam Sayre confirmed to the Press, though the amount has yet to determined. 

“TIF discussions are ongoing,” he wrote in an email Sept. 16.

Tiegen said the TIF request is for competitive reasons, as the company has been looking all over Dane County and in other parts of the country, as well. Arrowhead’s headquarters are in California.

“It’s part of the overall package and why we would think of Verona versus other places,” he said.

The Verona Technology Park has two other high-tech facilities on its east end that require special attention from public safety agencies, Ceva and Millipore Sigma, formerly known as SAFC Pharma. 

Tiegen said the presence of those operations and the city’s business friendly attitude were big drivers of the decision to locate there.

Moving and building

Five years ago, the city entertained a proposal by Cellular Dynamics Incorporated to locate a similar-sized facility in that area of the park, but the company instead moved into a building in University Research Park in Madison formerly used by Arrowhead.

Arrowhead would keep its Research Park facility, Tiegen said, and shift the focus of that building primarily to research and discovery. The Verona facility would be focused on manufacturing, with the lab there used to support the manufacturing processes.

“We’re excited to move in and be able to backfill the current site with additional discovery,” Tiegen said.

Tiegen said the hope is for the deal to close in Mid-November and for the lab facility to break ground by the end of the year and open about a year later. The manufacturing facility would follow next spring and open eight to 12 months after the lab.

Access to the site would come from John P. Livesey Blvd., which would be extended east from the new KSW Construction building to County Hwy. M, and Arrowhead Way, which would run north and south from a spot near that intersection. The tech park is also getting upgrades next year along M and PB, and Costco is building a 161,000 square foot store there over the next several months.

About Arrowhead

Arrowhead is a publicly traded company based in Pasadena, Calif., that specializes in genetic treatment of diseases, according to its website

“Using a broad portfolio of RNA chemistries and efficient modes of delivery, Arrowhead therapies trigger RNA interference mechanism to induce rpid, deep and durable knockdown of target genes,” its website states.

In July, the company received a breakthrough therapy designation for its treatment of liver disease associated with Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, according to a release from the company. That designation allows fast tracking by the FDA.

“Patients with AATD associated liver disease currently have no available treatment options other than a liver transplant,” the company’s chief medical officer, Javier San Martin, wrote in the release.

 

Contact Jim Ferolie at jferolie@wisconsinmediagroup.com.

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