By Steve Lackmeyer
A start-up pharmaceutical manufacturer with a reported potential to employ thousands is set to anchor a $240 million mixed-use development being built next year at the gateway to Oklahoma City’s innovation district.
Wheeler Bio, founded by Oklahoma City investor Christian Kanady and scientist Dr. Jesse McCool, is set to start with up to 100 scientists working on three floors of Kanady’s Ziggurat building at 120 Robert S. Kerr Ave. The company is set to expand into up to half of a 400,000-square-foot manufacturing and office complex at NE 8 and Stiles Circle.
Construction is set to start at the Ziggurat building this summer; work will begin on the larger development at NE 8 and Stiles Circle in February. And while developers promise what is shown in their renderings is what they will deliver, timing of an innovation hall is in question.
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Wheeler Bio, a new pharmaceutical manufacturer, will anchor a 400,000 square foot office building, shown in this provided rendering, while a 110-room hotel will be built to right of the office building.
“We believe that Wheeler Bio in and of itself could represent a billion-dollar business that employs thousands of Oklahomans if done correctly,” Kanady said. “It’s pretty intriguing that the University of Oklahoma already has a pretty substantial chemical engineering program that could automatically feed into Wheeler Bio as its workforce.”
Oklahoma City has spent the half century transforming an area initially anchored by the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine into a 321-acre Oklahoma Health Center campus that is home to about two dozen medical, research and bio-tech organizations. A series of studies suggested merging the Oklahoma Health Center and nearby Automobile Alley into an “innovation district.”
Kanady, who last year invested in the launching of Prairie Surf Studios at the former Cox Convention Center, got his start in the energy industry working at Chesapeake Energy and then founding his own company, Echo Energy.
Oklahoma City’s future, he said, must go beyond the energy industry that helped make the city what it is today.
Read the entire story at The Oklahoman website (subscription required).