Bayer HealthCare. Image: Flad Architects
Bayer HealthCare is considering building on Grayson Street. Image: Flad Architects

Bayer HealthCare won unanimous approval Thursday from the city of Berkeley’s zoning board to make significant changes at its West Berkeley campus, on Grayson Street, to prepare it to manufacture a new generation of the company’s recombinant DNA treatments for hemophilia.

Bayer spokeswoman Trina Ostrander said in May that the new 3-story facility would house testing operations — on an existing parking area and empty lot — “for various raw materials and final product” related to the treatments.

Berkeleyside wrote about the project, at 801 Grayson St., west of Seventh Street, in May. The project was approved as part of the consent calendar before the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday evening.

Bayer is looking at demolishing three buildings, at 800 Dwight Way, and building a new 80,000-square-foot testing facility as part of its pharmaceutical operations. Ostrander said in May that the proposal, currently, is just that, as it awaits approval from the company’s governing board in Germany. The board has yet to vote on the project.

Prior to its purchase by Bayer in 1999, the site was previously occupied by Colgate Palmolive and Philadelphia Quartz Companies. If it moves forward, the project would be Bayer’s first major site improvement on the former soap factory property.

The proposed project was found to have no significant environmental effects, according to the staff report prepared for Thursday’s meeting. An initial study identified potential significant effects, but Bayer then made changes to its proposal to avoid or mitigate those issues.

According to the staff report, about 25 people attended a community meeting about the project in May. They “asked questions about the number of employees that would be generated, the plans for the old lab buildings, and Bayer’s commitment to staying in Berkeley.”

Bayer does not plan to add staff as a result of the expansion, according to the staff report. Ostrander said in May that there were no anticipated job losses, either.

The project would be built in one phase lasting approximately a year and eight months, beginning in January 2015, according to the proposed schedule from earlier this year. During construction, access to the property would be via the existing Grayson Street Gate.

The San Francisco Business Times reported that the project could cost Bayer $100 million.

But Bayer spokeswoman Ostrander said this week that the company has not released an estimate for project costs.

“We haven’t put a public dollar amount on it as Bayer is always reluctant to establish expectations in advance,” she told Berkeleyside, via email.

Read Bayer’s statement about the project and see the project plans. The draft environmental study is available hereSee more project documents here on the city of Berkeley website. 

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Berkeley praises Bayer, city’s largest for-profit employer (11.02.12)
Bayer unveils Berkeley’s largest solar installation (05.30.12)
Activists accuse Bayer of killing bees, protest in Berkeley (05.17.12)
Bayer Healthcare employees reject contract (09.01.11)
Laid-off Bayer workers still fighting for their jobs (08.31.11)
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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...