A new bioscience center in Prince William County is inching toward opening.
Officials held a sneak peek of the Northern Virginia Bioscience Center at Innovation Park on Oct. 7.
Holladay Properties is building the $18.5 million, 30,000-square-foot commercial wet lab on the property. It will be the first of its kind in the county. The facility will serve as a space for new and growing life sciences businesses to grow and build off the existing Prince William Science Accelerator.
A wet lab is used for experiments that can involve various types of chemical and potential hazards. The labs are specially designed to avoid spills and contamination.
The county established the accelerator in 2014 to boost the local life sciences industry along with other developments at Innovation Park, including the establishment of George Mason University’s Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research.
Debi Roder, the county’s business development manager of life sciences, said the work at the accelerator ranges from diagnostics to virology and antimicrobial studies.
Since opening, the accelerator has created about 50 jobs. Ceres Nano has moved from the accelerator to a 10,000-square-foot wet lab at Innovation with 20 employees.
The accelerator is in Gainesville, and the new bioscience center is in Innovation Park, off Prince William Parkway near GMU’s Science and Technology Campus.
The county’s Innovation Park small-area plan hopes to turn the area into a mixed-use, science and technology-oriented employment hub. County staff have estimated that the district could support between 19,917 and 38,392 jobs, as well as 2,392 to 3,997 homes.
In 2019, the Board of County Supervisors authorized the sale of the land to PWC Innovation Research I LLC, a subsidiary of Holladay, for the bioscience center. The 4.4 acres were sold for $784,000.
The county provided $250,000 in water and sewer fee credits and a $350,000 grant to support the project. The development also received a $500,000 GO Virginia grant.
Christina Winn, executive director of the county’s Department of Economic Development, said once businesses at the accelerator are ready to expand, they have nowhere to go in the county. She said the new facility is the “natural next step” in the county’s investment in the industry.
“This is about creating our life sciences ecosystem,” she said.
Austin Haynes of Holladay Properties said tenants can start moving in equipment around the end of the year, and opening is expected by Feb. 1. About half of the space is already leased.
“This really has been a labor of love for the last three years,” he said.
Tenants can access space ranging from 395 square feet to 5,660 square feet.
“We really can work with your needs,” Haynes told the audience at the networking event.
Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, whose Brentsville District includes the property, said the facility is important, especially with new focus on sciences spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a great new member to Innovation Park,” she said. “It’s people like me who are relying on your work day in and day out.”