Newest Big Employer Opens Doors

Alexion Pharmaceuticals finished moving back home to New Haven after almost 16 years in the suburbs, and opened the doors to 1,200 new downtown workers — and counting.

Born in Science Park in 1992 before moving to Cheshire in 2000, Alexion recommitted to New Haven when promised up to $51 million in state aid from Gov. Dannel Malloy, contributing to an effort to reverse suburban-oriented planning around Route 34.

City and state leaders, as well as families helped by the company’s medical output, gathered Monday morning to celebrate the completion and opening of Alexion’s new $100 million 14-story headquarters at 100 College St.

Alexion CEO David Hallal said the new building will bring together the company’s employees under one roof for a shared purpose.

“It’s a place that will nurture the highest levels of scientific collaboration and innovation to benefit our patients,” Hallal said.

Alexion originally signed a lease with developer Carter Winstanley to take up three-fourths of the building at 100 College St., with Yale taking up the rest. Then the company’s officials realized it had grown enough that it would need the whole space. Alexion now expects to have as many as 1,700 workers there.

Winstanley broke ground on the development in June 2013, with the intention of having it ready in 2015.

Yale University President Peter Salovey said Monday he is “proud to give the building back and let them move in.”

At Monday’s celebration, Hallal pointed out families in the audience who have benefited from the biopharmaceutical company’s drugs — fitting he said, since Monday was Global Rare Disease Day, raising awareness of diseases affecting only hundreds or thousands of people around the world.

The company’s best known drug is Soliris, which treats patients with two rare life-threatening blood disorders, paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome.

“From the founding of the company to today, we have had the ability to see the unseen,” he said.

Alexion’s new headquarters is in an area the city is moving to fill with community organizations and local businesses on and around the former Route 34 Connector “highway to nowhere,” which got filled in as part of the Downtown Crossing project..

“You can’t build a new building without the infrastructure to support it,” U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said. She called on the federal government to devote more money to the National Institute of Health, which has not seen a significant investment since 2003. DeLauro thanked the field of bioscience for getting her through ovarian cancer; she will celebrate 30 years free of cancer March 31.

Mayor Toni Harp said she was happy to welcome Alexion back.

“It highlights the need to invest in infrastructure in order to create jobs at all skill levels,” Harp said. “It will enable New Haven to stay on the cutting edge of development and biotech research.”

She said Alexion will contribute to bolstering the jobs pipeline in the city, partnering with Gateway Community College and Southern Connecticut State University to continue building a bioscience “career ladder” for students.

After the event, Harp spoke on WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven” program about how Alexion’s opening represents “a future for New Haven if not for all of Connecticut” in biotech.

She noted that in addition to researchers, managers, nurses, scientists working in labs and on drug trials, 100 College St. will spin off “Synergies” in the local economy, from support businesses like dry cleaners and sandwich shops to repair people.

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