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Ionis Pharmaceuticals plans large expansion in Carlsbad



Ionis Pharmaceuticals, which recently announced it will open a sprawling research-and-development center in Oceanside, also plans a large expansion of its home base in Carlsbad.

The Carlsbad Planning Commission unanimously approved the company’s request Wednesday to construct a 165,000-square-foot, three-story building with a three-level parking structure on 8.37 acres next to the existing Ionis headquarters in the Carlsbad Oaks North Business Park.

The new 48-foot-tall building will include a pedestrian overpass almost 17 feet above street level across Whiptail Way to connect with the existing 18-acre Ionis campus, according to plans presented to the commission.

Built in 2011, the main campus includes nearly 250,000 square feet of office, lab, research and development, and conference center space, along with a 5,600-square-foot fitness center, full-size basketball and volleyball courts, and vehicle charging stations. Ionis reportedly sold the Carlsbad property to Canadian real estate giant Oxford properties last year with an agreement to lease it back for a minimum of 15 years, according to a news story distributed by the PR Newswire.

No one from Ionis spoke at Wednesday’s commission meeting, and the company did not respond to an email to its media office requesting comments.

Ionis also will lease the Oceanside building planned for a multi-acre site just off Oceanside Boulevard near Rancho Del Oro Drive in the city’s El Corazon property. There, the company signed a deal with El Corazon’s lead developer, Sudberry Properties, to occupy the building for 20 years with two 10-year renewal options.

Ionis officials have said they expect to move into the El Corazon property in 2025 and employ 200 permanent, full-time people there.

A biotech company for more than 30 years, Ionis has become a leader in manufacturing groundbreaking RNA-targeting gene pharmaceuticals. In January, Ionis announced it had sold an interest in two of its medicines to Royalty Pharma for $500 million upfront and up to $625 million in additional payments based on future production.

“This transaction provides us with significant capital to reach our strategic objectives, the first of which is to achieve commercial readiness for our late-stage programs,” said Brett P. Monia, chief executive officer of Ionis, in a press release. “It also enables us to further advance our deep and innovative pipeline so that we can continue to deliver a steady cadence of new genetic medicines to the market.”

Carlsbad Oaks North Business Park is a 600-acre master planned development along Faraday Avenue east of McClellan-Palomar Airport.

The city received two letters from people concerned about the noise, light pollution and environmental consequences the Ionis expansion may have on a nearby habitat conservation area.

All those issues were studied for the industrial park’s environmental impact report and were shown not to be significant, said Shannon Harker of the city’s Planning Division. Although the report was completed about 20 years ago, it still meets present-day environmental requirements.

Commission members said the project was well planned and a benefit to the community.

Commissioner Roy Means called it “an excellent project” and commended Ionis for expanding in Carlsbad.

Until 2015, Ionis was known as Isis Pharmaceuticals. That year, the company changed its name to avoid any association with the terror group known as Isis that started wreaking global havoc about 2013.

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