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Medical Campus finds site for second Innovation Center

With its original Innovation Center nearly filled to capacity, the organization that oversees the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has agreed to purchase a complex of buildings on Ellicott Street to serve as a new home for startup companies.

The group has signed a contract with Osmose Holdings to buy several parcels totaling 4 acres at Ellicott and Best streets, on the northern edge of the Medical Campus, and plans to begin moving companies into the facility by the start of 2017, said Matthew K. Enstice, the president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Enstice declined to disclose the purchase price for the agreement, which ends a search of several years for a suitable location for a second Innovation Center.

“It gives us a lot of flexibility for growth on the campus,” he said.

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus opened its Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center in 2010 in a portion of the abandoned Trico Products Corp. windshield wiper plant that the organization purchased at bankruptcy auction. The Medical Campus spent $15.6 million renovating the 128,000-square-foot space.

It opened with two companies, had 23 by November 2010 and has 65 companies now, not counting entrepreneurs and startups that use its dig co-working space. Only 9,000 square feet is unused.

The Medical Campus organization has looked for several years for additional space for startup companies as it runs out of room in the original Innovation Center.

The Medical Campus expanded into space at 847 Main St., which is fully occupied by Buffalo Manufacturing Works and ZeptoMetrix, and at 73 High St., which is fully rented and 85 percent occupied by seven life-sciences companies, according to campus officials.

They considered, at one time, expanding into the adjoining space in the former Trico building, before discarding that option as too expensive. Krog Corp. now is planning a major, $50 million redevelopment of that space.

Enstice said the Osmose Holdings property makes sense because it requires little renovation work, it has a mix of office and laboratory space, it has room for about 200 parking spaces and it is near the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s Summer-Best Station.

It’s a 150,000-square-foot complex of three or four connected buildings at the far northern boundary of the Medical Campus, past the Pilgrim Village housing development.

Osmose is a wood preservation technology company that was headquartered on Ellicott Street and was once one of the premier private companies in Buffalo.

It was sold and resold in recent years and shut down operations at the Ellicott Street site only within the last year, Enstice said. Because of that, the lab and the offices remain in excellent condition and the work that needs to be done to the buildings is largely cosmetic.

“We can move quickly on this. It’s space that’s sitting there,” Enstice said, adding, “This gives us breathing room.”

Enstice said he thinks at least about 15 companies could be moved into the Osmose building, depending on their size. The purchase will close in 60 days.