News

Roanoke labs project awaits final budget approval

The intended site for 30,000 square feet of lab space is a Carilion-owned building on South Jefferson Street.

An estimated 30,000 square feet of shared lab space could go online in Roanoke within a year and a half, assuming that the General Assembly votes Wednesday to approve a compromise budget that includes nearly $16 million in state funding for the project.
The lab initiative, which was announced in December and also includes a smaller lab facility at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, is designed to meet what economic development and technology leaders have for years seen as a critical need: room for researchers and entrepreneurs – especially those in the region’s burgeoning life sciences cluster – to do their work.

The intended site in Roanoke is a building on South Jefferson Street that’s owned by Carilion Clinic and is centrally located to biomedical and health science research that’s already underway in the city: It’s less than a half-mile from either the campus that houses the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute or the downtown Roanoke home of RAMP, a regional technology business accelerator.

The building, which formerly housed some of Carilion’s pediatric services and is now mostly vacant, must still be fully evaluated for its suitability for the project, Carilion CFO Don Halliwill said Tuesday.

Once the General Assembly approves the budget – and the governor signs off on it – the project partners will have $15.7 million to put toward renovating the building, work that is expected to take 16 to 18 months, according to Brett Malone, president and CEO of the Corporate Research Center. The city of Roanoke is contributing another $1.9 million to the project, said Marc Nelson, the city’s director of economic development.

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