Cancer drug developer Millennium has agreed to lease about 230,000 square feet of office and lab space and become the anchor tenant in a new mixed-use building planned for 300 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, a move that would significantly expand the biotechnology company’s local footprint while extending the University Park at MIT life-sciences cluster.
The Cambridge City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on zoning approval for the proposed six-story structure, which would be developed by Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises and include shops and restaurants on the ground floor. If the parties finalize their deal, the rest of the building would be occupied by Millennium, which has hired 400 employees and boosted its workforce to 1,200 since it was bought by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. of Japan four years ago.
Combined with its current space in all or parts of five other buildings just blocks away, Millennium’s campus would be large enough to accommodate 2,000 employees once it occupies the new space in the second half of 2015, said company spokeswoman Manisha Pai.
“Ever since Takeda acquired us in 2008, we’ve continued to grow,” Pai said. “We’ve grown by 50 percent in terms of employees. The tricky part is that as we continue to grow, we need more office and research space for people to work. And space is in demand in Cambridge.”
The biotechnology company, formerly called Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, has not yet committed to increasing its local workforce to 2,000 employees, Pai said, but remains on an expansion path as it moves a number of experimental cancer therapies through its product pipeline.
That pipeline was strengthened by Takeda’s decision to consolidate its own global cancer research programs into Millennium’s portfolio. Local workers, for example, are helping to plan the European launch of Adcetris, a Hodgkin’s lymphoma drug Takeda licensed from Seattle Genetics Inc.
Millennium currently has about 56 open positions in its commercial, corporate, and retail and development functions, most of the jobs on its Cambridge campus, Pai said.
She said Millennium envisions putting between 500 and 800 employees in the 300 Massachusetts Ave. building, a mix of new hires and current employees moved from the company’s Cambridge sites at 40 and 35 Landsdowne St., 75 and 64 Sidney St., and 350 Massachusetts Ave.
The proposed Millennium project adds to a rush of building activity between Kendall Square and the Charles River in Cambridge, much of it fueled by the expansion of biopharmaceutical companies.
Drug giants such as Pfizer Inc., Novartis AG, and Biogen Idec Inc., are all building new complexes or expanding in the area, as is the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Peter Calkins, executive vice president and chief operating officer for developer Forest City’s Boston-based science and technology group, said the new building, with about 250,000 square feet in total, would replace a block of mostly unoccupied and rundown single-story buildings.
If the Cambridge council approves the project, Forest City will move forward with its design and break ground by spring, he said.
“In addition to the Millennium space, we’re excited about the retail component of the development,” Calkins said. “We’re looking forward to coming up with some creative and locally focused retail concepts that will help to enliven this stretch of Massachusetts Avenue.”
The development will be part of, and extend the boundaries of, the University Park at MIT urban renewal project next to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridgeport.
That project, developed largely by Forest City, includes about 10 life-sciences buildings housing biopharma companies such as Millennium, Novartis, Sanofi SA, and Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., as well as the hospital and physicians group Partners HealthCare System Inc., which operates joint labs for Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.
It also includes five residential buildings with 674 apartments and the Le Meridien Cambridge hotel.