Reimagining 4340 Duncan

Rehab of historic building will provide startup support, spaces in Cortex Innovation Community

The $44 million, 15-month renovation of 4340 Duncan in the Cortex Innovation District is nearly complete, and demonstrates the connection, collaboration and community partnership taking place around innovation and entrepreneurship in the St. Louis region.

BOBB, LLC, an affiliate of Washington University in St. Louis, worked with several key regional stakeholders to bring this historic building back to life, transforming it into an important and strategic component of the Cortex Innovation Community. 4340 Duncan includes 80,000 rentable square feet of state-of-the-art office, lab and modular spaces to help support St. Louis startups in need of affordable, functional space in which to grow and thrive.

The project was conceived as a place to nurture and accelerate businesses in various stages of development; from startup to large-scale organizations. This project is also proof of the catalytic effort underway in St. Louis to support startups along every step of their entrepreneurial journey.

“This was a true team, collaborative effort,” said Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor and chief administrative officer at Washington University in St. Louis. “Washington University was pleased to help gather the right partners—both public and private sector—who could help make this transformation happen. We are excited for the niche it fills in the St. Louis startup scene, helping to nurture and accelerate mid-stage companies.”

BioSTL is the anchor tenant at the newly renovated and imagined 4340 Duncan. Its 37,000-square-foot space will allow the organization to expand its mission of cultivating and growing innovative bioscience companies and entrepreneurs. Confluence Discovery Technologies, Inc. an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc., will occupy more than 20,000 square feet as the exclusive tenant on the 4th floor of the building. Arch Oncology has also leased approximately 6,000 sf in the building for its research laboratory; both companies were launched and supported by BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL, and will continue their research in the BioGenerator Labs until the companies move into the 4340 this summer.

4340 Duncan will feature collaborative, open lab and office spaces, allowing startups to thrive, and keep their tech and jobs in St. Louis.

Confluence, a full-service drug discovery and early development research organization, was acquired in 2017 by Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company. In addition to being an integral part of Aclaris’ discovery and early development team which is focused on the development of immuno-inflammatory drugs, Confluence operates a contract research organization which provides drug discovery services to other pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Aclaris chose to keep Confluence – its offices, biomedical expertise and more than 45 jobs – in St. Louis, where it continues to be a productive contributor to the St. Louis scientific and business communities.

Arch Oncology will use its new scientific research laboratory at 4340 to support its clinical-stage discoveries and developments of new immune-oncology therapies for cancer patients. Over the past year, Arch Oncology has doubled its workforce and now has 24 employees, with 15 working in St. Louis.

“BioSTL is privileged to serve as anchor tenant in state-of-the-art space that BOBB, LLC, has beautifully renovated to help accommodate St. Louis’ blossoming bioscience startup ecosystem,” said Donn Rubin, President & CEO of BioSTL. “While the BioGenerator Labs will be its centerpiece, housing dozens of startups supported by BioSTL’s investment arm BioGenerator, the new space also will bring together our programs across the innovation ecosystem, including capital formation, entrepreneur development, inclusion, public policy, and global sourcing of innovation.”

Built in 1930, 4340 Duncan once served as a state-of-the-art printing facility for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 4340 was built in 1930 to house a state-of-the-art printing facility for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The space has been reimagined with innovation once again at its core. HOK is the architecture firm; Tarlton is the construction manager on the project. 4340 is near-capacity, with 83% of the space currently leased.

The project is the latest expansion of the Cortex district, which has grown to become an employment and tech powerhouse in the St. Louis region. As affordable “step up” space, 4340 allows fast-growing bioscience companies to continue growing and contributing their expertise to the innovation community.

Founded in 2002, 5,800 people work at Cortex, and it’s currently home to more than 400 tech companies. Cortex continues to grow at a rapid pace: 4220 Duncan, a new five-story tech office building, opened in May 2018. A parking garage and the Aloft Hotel are under construction, and two more building projects will be announced soon. Cortex’ goal is to increase the City’s tax base to support essential services, attract and create high-tech jobs, become the most inclusive urban innovation district in America, and be nationally and internationally recognized as a technology hub.