NeoGenomics Global Facilities and Operations Director Helen Edenfield takes great pride in emphasizing aesthetics in the design of the sleek new Fort Myers headquarters.
It comes down to the recessed walls of the lockers used by technicians at the $ 444.5 million cancer diagnostic testing and pharmacy services company. Hand sanitizing stations are also located in recessed walls. “I want everything here to look like it has a purpose,” she said. “Everything has a house. Nothing sticks out. “
While nothing protrudes from the walls, the project itself, on a 14-acre parcel near the intersection of Alico Road and Three Oaks Parkway, is quite remarkable. For one, at $ 60 million, it’s one of the largest commercial construction projects underway in the region. And specifically for NeoGenomics, the new home, officials say, includes a state-of-the-art molecular lab with next-generation sequencing capabilities, in addition to space that can support clinical trials for new oncology therapies.
NeoGenomics clients include a range of oncologists, pathologists, pharmaceutical companies, academic centers and others. The publicly traded company designated $ 11 million for the project in the first quarter, according to a recent earnings call.
The team around the project includes Seagate Development Group and Studio + architecture, both based in Fort Myers. Construction began in March 2020 and is expected to be completed in August, with staff moving into the space from the fall and through the winter. Edenfield credits the team of architects, planners and builders working almost transparently for the success of the project so far. “If you’ve picked the wrong team on a project like this,” says Edenfield, global director of facilities and operations at NeoGenomics, “trying to catch up is impossible. “
The complex is 150,000 square feet spread over two buildings. This is double the current space at NeoGenomics’ head office near the Gateway area of Fort Myers, which is approximately 75,000 square feet in five buildings.
Inside there are 10 pathology suites, with room to expand to 19. That’s up from seven in the previous building. The complex includes a commercial-grade kitchen and several outdoor spaces for employees. NeoGenomics expects to have around 350 to 400 employees at the head office initially, with room to house some 700 employees.
Thanks to the expansion plan, NeoGenomics is eligible for several incentives and tax breaks from the state and Lee County because it is a “high impact sector” of the economy, according to a statement. Florida officials have pledged a tax credit equal to 5% of eligible investment costs for up to 20 years for the cost of the building. It starts after NeoGenomics spent at least $ 25 million on the project and created at least 100 jobs.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has also agreed to provide NeoGenomics with up to $ 1.77 million in tax refunds in exchange for hiring at least 295 people over five years. These employees are expected to receive an average annual salary of at least $ 59,900, the release said. Lee County pushed the package to over $ 2.1 million, with an additional $ 354,000 in grants.
Along with all of these employees and future employees, another element of the head office project is an invaluable commodity in any rapidly growing business: parking spaces. The complex will have 787 parking spaces, more than double the previous location, which had 300.
The NeoGenomics complex also offers natural and peaceful elements. It’s a reserve, both a design embellishment point and a defensive move to make sure no one else builds right next to it, Edenfield says. Studio + CEO Damon Romanello, on a recent tour, said visual access to the reserve is key to the flow of the building. “You are never in an interior hallway or hallway without a view to the outside,” explains Romanello. “People pay to have water features that look like an outdoor mural. We have that here naturally.
An outside factor that has contributed to the success of the project, officials say, is the cooperation of Lee County officials. While Seagate CEO Matt Price said early on that he didn’t think county staff “really knew what a molecular lab was,” they were eager to work with developers – not to create roadblocks.
The main obstacles, instead of the county, were obvious: the pandemic, labor shortages, material shortages and high material prices. “We just adopted and carried on,” says Romanello. “There will always be obstacles to overcome. “
The price is okay. “People who struggle in times of crisis are people who have not planned ahead,” he says. “Nothing is insurmountable in this profession. Usually, it only takes time and money.