A $368 million health technology park — anchored by a cancer treatment center — could create as many as 2,500 jobs to north central Connecticut in the next five years, the project’s developers say.
The developers of ProTech Park said they are seriously considering multiple sites in Enfield and others north of Hartford for the research and development facility. The facility could that could eventually encompass a half a million square feet, according to Boston-based International Charged Particle LLC, the developer and operator of the cancer treatment center.
The park would be anchored by the state’s first proton therapy center for treating cancerous tumors. Construction could begin as early as this fall and patients start receiving treatment within two years, Stephen E. Courtney, ICP’s president, told me this morning.
Courtney declined to identify the sites now under consideration, except to describe ICP’s first choice as now being “a field.” Purchase negotiations have already taken place, he said.
The cancer treatment center would be about 75,000 square feet in size and cost about $150 million. Nearly half of the cost — $64 million — is for equipment and its installation, Courtney said.
In addition, there are at least two other potential tenants for the park — one interested in 90,000 square feet and another, 40,000 square feet — though Courtney declined to name them.
“In this park, it’s all related to medical technology,” Courtney told me. “We hope it will help in the areas of applied science, medical device development and precision engineering.”
See more renderings of the Connecticut Proton Therapy Center here.
Courtney said the cancer treatment center is expected to employ 216 initially, with jobs such as oncologists, physicists and technicians. The average salary will be about $102,000, Courtney told me. That’s nearly double the $53,760 statewide average, according to government statistics.
The cancer treatment that would be offered differs from traditional radiation therapy because it uses a beam of protons to target both benign and malignant tumors more precisely. That reduces the damage to nearby cells and organs that often occurs in traditional radiation therapy, Courtney said.
Proton therapy was first used in the early 1950s, but it did not gain momentum until the 1990s. Today, there are 11 centers around the country using the therapy and another half dozen under construction. Courtney also is a partner in the SciX, a Boston architectural firm, that has designed a handful of proton therapy centers in the country.
ICP was formed a couple of years ago to design and develop the Connecticut project. Courtney told me joined with radiation oncologist Leslie Yonemoto and others to form the partnership. Yonemoto was involved in the country’s first proton therapy center in a hospital setting in the 1990s.
ICP chose Connecticut because there isn’t one currently in the state, and the closest, at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital, already can’t accommodate everyone seeking treatment, Courtney told me.
The project will need approval from the state’s Office of Health Care Access and local zoning officials.
While ICP has lined up bank financing, Courtney told me ICP has already had discussions about an aid package from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. He declined to discuss the details of those talks.
Officials from other states, including Massachusetts, are wooing ICP as well, hoping to attract the research and development facility to their states, Courtney said.