Red Cross abandons plan to build at SIUE

News-DemocratOctober 30, 2013 

The American Red Cross will not build a new blood processing and testing center on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus.

American Red Cross Blood Services initially announced plans in September 2007 to build a new $50 million, 170,000-square-foot center on a 15-acre site in University Park. But in a statement issued Wednesday by Dan Fox, Program Manager of the American Red Cross Mid-America Blood Services Division in St. Louis, "Since then, unstable economic conditions and reduced financial resources forced the Red Cross to re-evaluate the decision to build a new facility. The Red Cross has nothing but the utmost respect for SIUE, University Park and the local community and remains committed to providing life-saving blood for those in need."

Jim Pennekamp, executive director of SIUE's University Park, said the Red Cross' decision is "terribly disappointing" and is in no way a reflection of the university or University Park.

"From 2007 to roughly last month, economic conditions had changed and the market changed," Pennekamp said. "Obviously, we're extremely disappointed."

Pennekamp said the Red Cross has been forced to forfeit a $750,000 pre-paid lease that it agree to pay University Park. He said the Red Cross twice re-negotiated its lease, which included performance clauses and deadlines before deciding to cancel the project.

The site was selected from 40 other locations in the greater St. Louis area and was to be the new home for the Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region and National Testing Lab, which has been operating from 4050 Lindell Blvd. in St. Louis. The new center was to include technologically advanced equipment and a state-of-the-art manufacturing area.

In 2007, the Red Cross announced that the St. Louis locale had an aging infrastructure and was not set up for large-scale manufacturing as many of its blood-processing centers around the country needed major renovations in order to continue to meet the highest blood safety standards and to assure blood availability to hospitals.

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 618-239-2526.

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