incyte bracebridge

Incyte’s move into MBNA buildings will add up to 500 new jobs

Betsy PriceBusiness, Headlines

incyte bracebridge

Bracebridge I, at 1100 North King Street, is one of two former MBNA buildings that Incyte will buy to expand its operations downtown. This one faces Rodney Square.

Incyte will buy two former MBNA buildings in downtown Wilmington, Bracebridge I and Bracebridge III, which will allow the biopharmaceutical company to move about 850 jobs into the city, expand its laboratory space in Alapocas, and move 300 jobs into Delaware.

The 517,307 square feet in the Bracebridge buildings will almost double the company’s Delaware footprint. Incyte will focus first on renovating Bracebridge I at 1100 North King Street. That’s expected to take about a year, depending on construction issues.


Hervé Hoppenot

Incyte’s move will add a huge economic boost for Delaware’s biggest city.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said Tuesday afternoon that the announcement, which has been in the works since August, is a crowning moment for the state’s largest city and a boost to a downtown that he says has basically been eviscerated by the work-from-home trend.

“This is a capstone,” said Purzycki, who is in his last year as mayor. “We want to tell everybody in our city just how really well the city is doing in every measure.”

The city has climbed out of the pandemic hole, he said.

“Our crime rate is as low as it’s been in 20 years. The city’s cleaner and more prosperous,” Purzycki said. “We have had $1.8 billion in (building construction) permit fees issued since I’ve been mayor. We’ve done so many good things, and we’ve got so many great things happening to all of a sudden have Incyte moving in here with a huge investment and a vast number of employees. It’s a great capstone on on a wonderful time that we’ve had working together.”

The signal that Incyte is sending when it moved into the city is an important message, Purzycki said.

“It’s very important that we’ve got businesses moving into the city, that it’s not just people living in the city at a much greater clip than ever before, but now we’ve got people in the workplace moving in,” he said. . The vacancies of office spaces across the country are a natural phenomenon that has been weighing heavily on the finances of cities. And so for us to have a first class employer move in and bring in up to 850 jobs, whatever the final tally will be, is tremendous for our confidence, for our financial situation, for our small businesses who serve the people who work and live here. It will be great for morale, I promise you that much.”

Incyte, which focuses on rare and hard-to-treat diseases including cancer, will use $14.8 million in state grants to make their move.

The state money includes a Jobs Performance Grant of up to $9.2 million and a Graduated Lab Space Grant of up to $5.7 million from the Delaware Strategic Fund.

The grants are dependent on Incyte meeting commitments outlined to the Council on Development Finance.

“Delaware has been our home for more than 20 years, and we are looking forward to expanding our operations in Wilmington and continuing to grow our company here,” said Incyte Chief Executive Officer Hervé Hoppenot. “We are grateful to the continued support of the state, the city and others, including DPP (Delaware Prosperity Partnership), who have supported our company and fostered innovation and growth in our region.”

Word of Incyte’s move leaked out last week when the Council posted its Monday agenda.

incyte bracebridge

Bracebridge III, at  1100 North French Street, is one row back from Rodney Square and connected to Bracebridge I with bridges over the streets.

Incyte’s impact

Incyte, founded in Delaware in 2002, recently abandoned a plan to build a five-story building near Wilmington Friends School, largely because of community resistance.

Wilmington will benefit from a reduction in office vacancy and the new-to-Wilmington jobs, which will be skilled, technical and managerial positions with annual salaries ranging from over $90,000 to over $200,000.

Incyte’s expansion will allow the company to convert vacated office space at its Alapocas campus to lab space and accommodate the company’s projected future growth.

Bracebridge I and Bracebridge III, located at King and French streets, were built in the mid-1990s for MBNA and used by the bank until its 2006 merger with Bank of America. Since then, they have been left empty.

“Incyte’s decision to move their headquarters to downtown Wilmington is not only a big deal for the city – it’s a big deal for our state,” said Gov. John Carney in a press release.

“Incyte is a Delaware success story. Incyte grew out of its space at the DuPont Experimental Station and moved hundreds of employees into a renovated headquarters at Augustine Cut Off,” Carney said. “Not only does this announcement mean more great jobs in our state – but it means that there is more opportunity for Incyte to keep doing good in our community and across the world…We couldn’t be prouder to call them a Delaware-grown company and we’re excited about their next chapter.”


This Tevebaugh Architect graphic shows the layout of MBNA’s Bracebridge buildings.


Since 2014, Incyte’s global headquarters has been a former Wanamaker’s department store site just outside the Wilmington city limits in Alapocas. Its European headquarters is in Switzerland and maintains commercial operations and offices in other European locales as well as in Asia and Canada.

That location, which has been expanded to include three buildings, currently houses the company’s corporate and research and development teams.

RELATED NEWS: Incyte in line for $14.8 million grant to expand into downtown Wilmington

Brokering the deal wasn’t hard, but it was complex, Purzycki said, because of all the different entities involved and decisions that had to be made.

“We worked with some really fun people over at Incyte to try to pull together a transaction that satisfied everybody and was affordable and make good sense economically,” Purzycki said “We reached it and it’s been great and we’re really thrilled that this day has come.”

He said he hopes some of the Incyte employees who come to work downtown will end up living in the city, although he said workers moving from Chadds Ford may not be moving far enough to want to move their homes.

The mayor praised the help of the the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, who  worked with Incyte the city, the state and other partners to explore Delaware sites for Incyte’s expansion. DPP also supported the company’s request to the Council on Development Finance for jobs performance and Delaware Strategic Fund grants.

Possible ed hub

Another of MBNA’s buildings — Bracebridge II — may soon be turned into an education hub called the bridge that would bring the Delaware Law School, Delaware State University’s nursing program and the University of Delaware’s associates degree program downtown.

The project, spearheaded by the Longwood Foundation, will need city, county and state money to match what Longwood and the Bank of America will throw in.

Ultimately, the goal behind the The Bridge, as the project is called, is to raise the standard of living and the health of the city’s Black and Brown residents, who haven’t had access to education and that jobs that will be created.

RELATED NEWS: Longwood Foundation project would make old MBNA building into education hub

“Thère du Pont has been very committed to this,” Purzycki said. “It’s really exciting because you know we always talk about cities with eds, meds and beds, right? So we’ve got the meds and we’ve got the beds, but we have not had the eds. We don’t have educational facilities down here in any significant measure.

“And all of a sudden we could have essentially our own little downtown college campus for real. You could have all the prospective members of the bar working down here with the law firms and the nursing program, which is so important in this country right now to continue to train people in that profession.

“I just think it would be a cornerstone of our of our economy, our culture here.”

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