The vision of 4MLK came one step closer to reality as University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) faculty, staff, and researchers joined lawmakers and members of the Poppleton community Oct. 14 to celebrate the launch of construction on the newest addition to the University of Maryland BioPark.
Situated at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Baltimore Street, the 8-story, 250,000-square-foot 4MLK building — Phase 1 of a two-phase project — will provide critical wet laboratory space in downtown Baltimore for researchers and companies, flexible lab and office/support space for startups, and Class A office space, along with areas for convening and a conference center. The new building is slated for completion in 2024.
Calling the BioPark “transformational” to the University and the city of Baltimore, UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell MD, FACS, invited the audience gathered under a white tent for the celebration to imagine the future. “I want you to look around,” Jarrell said, gesturing to the empty lot and green grass, “This space used to be very different, and this space will be very different in a year or so when this beautiful building is complete.”
4MLK will be the third multi-tenant building developed by Wexford Science and Technology in the BioPark, one of 16 Wexford-developed Knowledge Communities across the country. It will serve as a gateway among the BioPark, UMB, and the University of Maryland Medical Center, furthering the BioPark’s mission of bringing together faculty researchers, entrepreneurs, seasoned life science leaders, and community-focused initiatives and programs for the advancement of human health innovation.
Caroline Moore, Southeast Region executive and senior vice president of development for Wexford, shared Jarrell’s vision. “Over the next short 22 months, we will watch 4MLK rise out of the BioPark and become a vital new life science offering for the Baltimore region,” she said.
Innovation, progress, and partnership were themes that resonated throughout the event. Reflecting on the initial meeting between his congregation and BioPark officials over seven years ago, Bishop Carl Pierce, pastor of Carter Memorial Church, whose footprint once filled the space of the future 4MLK building, characterized the relationship as “partners for progress.”
“We look forward to the continued expansion and upward improvement of both land development and people as we strive for a better community for a better people,” Pierce said. “It is my prayer that the facade of 4MLK is a testament to the continued transformation and change that has begun and will continue in this community.”
Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill offered his vision of the progress and economic development the 4MLK project will usher in. Gazing at a 20-foot rendering of the future building, Gill said he was looking at the future of life science. “I’m looking at innovation. I’m looking at energy. Lots of smart people, and great jobs are going to happen in this building,” he said.
While Pierce talked about the importance of community partnership, Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA, professor of medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and director, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), emphasized the value of CVD’s scientific partnerships with BioPark tenants such as Pharmaron, a research and development provider for the life science industry. “We cannot exist without product development partners and without public-private partnerships,” Neuzil said.
As she ticked off the current global public health emergencies of COVID-19 and monkeypox, Neuzil nudged Jarrell to start considering even more construction at the BioPark. “It’s time to start thinking about the next building,” she said, “because we at CVD think there’s enough work ahead in this area to keep us busy for a very long time.”
- 160,000 square feet of Class A, wet lab-capable space will be available to commercial partners for buildout.
- 40,000 square feet is planned for flexible lab, office, and lab support facilities specifically designed to meet the rigorous needs of growing life science companies. These flexible lab spaces are paired with full-service amenities such as shared lab equipment, weekly networking and educational programming, and flexible terms.
- A 16,000-square-foot space for community gathering and events will encourage networking and provide educational programming opportunities for tenants, UMB, and the greater Baltimore community.
- Along with the building, the project will deliver an adjacent public plaza and an activated streetscape with retail and food-and-beverage venues along MLK Boulevard and Baltimore Street.
- Phase II will add a second 250,000-square-foot lab/office building