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Lexington makes pitch to bring gene therapy company to town

Posted by Brock Parker  June 18, 2013 10:13 AM

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Lexington is offering almost $300,000 in tax reductions to lure a Dutch gene therapy company to town.

Town Meeting members Monday night approved the terms of a tax increment financing agreement with uniQure that offers almost $285,790 in tax savings to the company over a 10-year period if it opens a manufacturing facility on Hartwell Avenue in Lexington.

Stephen Gorgol, a consultant for the uniQure, said the company is in negotiations to sign a lease at 113 Hartwell Ave., where the company hopes to eventually produce Glybera, which treats a rare condition called lipoprotein lipase deficiency that causes inflammation of the pancreas.

The gene therapy was approved by the European Commission in November, according to the company’s website. Gorgol said uniQure is hoping to receive the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Glybera by late 2014.

The company would create about 90 jobs in Lexington and would move into about 52,000 square feet of space in an existing building during the third quarter of 2014, said Selectman Joseph Pato.

The town expects to net about $1.25 million in taxes paid by uniQure after subtracting the $285,000 in tax relief over the 10-year period.

Pato said Lexington has been trying to find ways to attract businesses to the Hartwell Avenue area, where the vacancy rate has ranged from 25 to 28 percent.

The tax break for the company was not without some opposition Monday. Some Lexington Town Meeting members said the town was basically giving money away even though the savings uniQure would realize may not even influence whether the company comes to town.

Bonnie Brodner, a town meeting and school committee member, said the town needs tax revenue for many capital projects and she said she wouldn’t support the tax break for uniQure.

“They very well may still come to Lexington,” she said.

Town Meeting approved the tax increment financing agreement by a voice vote.

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