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Updated: November 22, 2021

Abbott Labs again expanding in Maine with South Portland research site

exterior of one-story brick building, with trailer-type mobile office in foreground and blue sky background Photo / William Hall Abbott Laboratories already has a temporary engineering office on site at the former location of Bottomline Technologies in South Portland.

Abbott Laboratories, the multinational company that makes COVID-19 diagnostic tests in Scarborough and Westbrook, is making plans for a different kind of testing at a vacant office building in South Portland.

The Chicago-based medical device manufacturer has signed a long-term lease for an 11.4-acre site at 65 Gannett Drive, the site’s owner, Portland real estate firm J.B. Brown & Sons, confirmed to Mainebiz on Monday. The property, in the Gannett Drive Business Park, includes a 34,800-square-foot office building, which Abbott plans to expand with 18,000 square feet of lab space.

Terms of the lease were not disclosed, and a spokeswoman for Abbott did not immediately respond to inquiries from Mainebiz.

The build-out is estimated to cost $3 million, according to a site plan application filed with the South Portland Planning Board, which must sign off before ground breaks. The board takes up the application at a meeting Wednesday. The property currently has an assessed value of $5.7 million, according to the city’s tax rolls, and J.B. Brown & Sons purchased the property in 2016 for $3.6 million. 

aerial view of one-story brick building
Courtesy / Trail Marker Productions
An aerial photo from 2019 shows 65 Gannett Drive in South Portland. The research lab would be added to the building's west side, which appears near the top in this image.

It was developed in 1997 as a banking operations center, and most recently was a branch office of Bottomline Technologies Inc., a New Hampshire payment processing company that moved its South Portland location to John Roberts Road in 2019.

At 65 Gannett Drive, Landry/French Construction will lead the expansion as general contractor. Construction could begin in the next month or so and be completed by the end of next year, Ken Mitsui of J.B. Brown & Sons said.  

Landry/French, headquartered in Scarborough, last year built a 126,100-square-foot plant for Abbott in Westbrook, where the company ramped up production of its rapid diagnostic test for COVID. In July, Abbott announced it was laying off nearly 400 workers as demand for the tests began to wane.

The new facility won’t be manufacturing tests, according to the application.

Instead, Abbott plans to use it as a research and development site, employing about 90 people. Nearly half of the 53,000 square feet will be devoted to laboratory analysis and testing of raw materials used in pre-market studies of new medical products.

No animal or human test trials will be conducted at the site. According to the filing, the facility will generate a small amount — under 100 kilograms per month — of biohazardous waste.

Abbott (NYSE: ABT) has 109,000 employees in 160 countries, and produces diagnostics, medical devices, nutritional products and branded generic medicines. The company reported sales of $34.6 billion in 2020, up from $31.9 billion the previous year.

aerial photo of south portland, with roads marked
Courtesy / City of South Portland
The site of the Abbott research lab in South Portland is outlined in black, off Gannett Drive. The Maine Mall is shown on the right side of the image.

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