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Work is underway to redevelop the former Toys R Us near Regency mall for drug research company
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Work is underway to redevelop the former Toys R Us near Regency mall for drug research company

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After nearly a decade of sitting vacant, the former Toys R Us building across from Regency mall in Henrico County is getting ready to take on a new life.

Work is underway to renovate and expand the building at 8700 Quioccasin Road.

The $24 million project began earlier in the summer when Henrico issued a building permit on May 28, according to the county’s online building permit system. It also calls for adding 15,814 square feet onto the front of the existing building, according to a separate building permit.

The building renovation and expansion project, according to sources with knowledge of the project, is for a North Carolina-based drug research and development company, which has major laboratory operations elsewhere in Henrico. The building permit describes the project as a “PPD CSD-ICD expansion.”

PPD is the Wilmington, N.C.-based publicly traded company that provides contract drug-development research and testing for pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology and medical device companies, as well as academic and government organizations.

The company, which formerly had been called Pharmaceutical Product Development, operates a bioanalytical laboratory on Dabney Road in Henrico, where the company said two years ago it employed more than 1,000 people. It also has a local administrative offices in One Holland Place on Staples Mill Road.

Randy Buckwalter, PPD’s associate director of corporate communications, declined to comment about PPD taking over the former Toys R Us building. “We can’t comment on this project at this time,” Buckwalter said.

PPD is in the process of being acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., which agreed in April to a deal valued at $17.4 billion plus the assumption of about $3.5 billion of net debt. That transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The Toys R Us chain built the Quioccasin Road store in 1981 and operated there until 2012, when the retailer opened a new store across from the Short Pump Town Center. That Short Pump store closed in 2018 when the company shut down operations across the country.

The 43,131-square-foot building on 4.3 acres on Quioccasin Road is owned Birch Tree Holdings LLC in Alexandria, which acquired the property for $4.2 million in September 2019, according to the county’s online property records. The property is assessed at $2.197 million.

Gilbane Building Co. is the main contractor on the construction project. A representative listed on the building permit could not be reached for comment.

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