Danforth Plant Science Center plans $45 million expansion

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | 4:23 p.m. CDT; updated 8:00 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 30, 2013

ST. LOUIS — The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in suburban St. Louis has a $45 million expansion plan that includes the construction of a new building that would accommodate more than 100 new researchers.

The center, in Creve Coeur, said Sunday that it plans to break ground early next year on the three-story building. The new center adds 80,000 square feet of space to the current 170,000 square feet. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

The Danforth center is a not-for-profit research institute that seeks to help humans through plant science. Work is funded through grants and revenue from sources that include the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture, the Bill & Melinda Gates and Howard G. Buffett foundations, and others.

The addition will include flexible labs and accommodate robotics and other advances in research.

"The center's expansion project is a major step in our long- range plans to increase our impact through plant science," center President James Carrington said Monday. "The new addition will improve the capacity for high-level science in crop improvement, bioenergy, sustainable agriculture and plant biology. The new facilities will also help attract the best scientific teams as we expand in the years ahead."

The Missouri Development Finance Board has approved $4.5 million in tax credits for the project. Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement that the expansion "will create jobs and spur growth in this region, and generate new technologies to help feed and fuel communities around the world."

St. Louis County Economic Council President Denny Coleman said in a statement that the Danforth center "consistently attracts new, world-class talent to the St. Louis region."

The center's current building houses 227 employees. In addition to the latest expansion, the center also plans to complete an addition to its current greenhouse later this summer.

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