Subscribe for 99¢

CHESTERFIELD • After a competitive, multiyear process to identify a home for the project, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. broke ground Tuesday on a research campus in Chesterfield where it will hone development of medicine and vaccines.

The facility will both maintain and grow Pfizer’s local presence, retaining the company’s 450 current employees in the area while eventually creating 80 positions.

The 295,000 square feet of laboratory and office space at 875 West Chesterfield Parkway represents a $236 million investment and is projected to be completed in mid-2019.

Company and government officials at Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony said that the region helped secure the project thanks to its established relationship with Pfizer and the strong pool of qualified expertise it offers in biological sciences.

“We looked at opportunities on the West Coast, East Coast, the Research Triangle in North Carolina,” said John Ludwig, Pfizer’s senior vice president of BioTherapeutics Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“This was the right decision for Pfizer to make,” he said. “The trained workforce was already here.”

Pfizer has had a presence in the St. Louis area for about 15 years, since its acquisition of Pharmacia Corp. After the deal, Pfizer spun off Monsanto Co. — which had merged with Pharmacia in 2000 — as a standalone agriculture company.

Today, close to 400 Pfizer employees work in leased space on Monsanto’s Chesterfield research campus, with about an additional 70 company employees stationed in Weldon Spring. With leases at both locations set to expire in 2020, the company looked to consolidate and will also own its new space in Chesterfield, according to Samantha Reardon, a Pfizer spokeswoman.

Incentives from the state and St. Louis County were also offered to Pfizer.

The state arrangements are coordinated through the Missouri Works Program and could reach up to $5 million based on job creation totals.

The county, meanwhile, offered the company a 10-year, 50 percent tax abatement on real and personal property and also required that a one-time $10,000 donation be made to the Parkway School District’s STEM curriculum, according to Katy Jamboretz, vice president of marketing and communications for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

Business Briefing e-newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Reporter covering energy and the environment for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.