Two buildings that Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories picked up when it acquired Guidant in 2006 have been sold to Mt. San Jacinto College for $56.5 million.
Abbott spokeswoman Kristina Becker said the buildings — about 375,000 square feet of Class A office space — were never fully occupied and there will be no layoffs associated with the sale, which will allow the college to greatly expand its footprint in Temecula.
“The future is truly unlimited with this,” said MSJC Superintendent/President Roger Schultz on Tuesday evening.
Abbott is keeping the buildings to the west of Ynez Rd., a facility that had been used to produce Abbott Vascular’s Absorb line of heart stents. The two that are being sold are located at 41888 Motor Car Parkway, Becker said.
“One of the buildings was used for offices but was never fully utilized, and the other building was empty, never housing anything,” she said in an email.
Guidant built the towers after negotiating a tax increment agreement with the city’s former Redevelopment Agency in 2004.
A couple years later, Abbott bought Guidant — and the Temecula campus — as part of a multibillion-dollar transaction that involved Boston Scientific and a competing bid by Johnson & Johnson.
For a time, Abbott was one of the largest employers in the county but a series of layoffs has dropped the local workforce from a high of around 4,000 to 1,500.
Mt. San Jacinto College currently operates an education complex on Enterprise Circle West and a higher education center on Business Park Drive. The college plans to let those leases expire and merge operations in the new towers.
That transition is expected to take around 18 months.
Temecula Mayor Matt Rahn said he helped facilitate the sale by putting the Abbott buildings on the college’s radar following the 2014 passage of Measure AA, a bond measure that generated around $295 million for new facilities, job training classes and upgrades of existing facilities.
City officials, including Economic Development Analyst Christine Damko, followed up and helped organize a tour of the facility attended by representatives from both Cal State San Marcos and MSJC, which counts thousands of Temecula and Murrieta residents as students.
“Years ago we set out to pursue higher education in Temecula,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mike Naggar. “While we were successful on many fronts, this is the game changer that puts us over the top. High praise should be given to to the MSJC board and their forward-thinking wisdom.”
MSJC Trustee Tom Ashley, who represents Temecula and surrounding communities, said the location of the campus will allow many residents who had been driving to Menifee or across the city to walk or ride their bike to school.
“It’s good news for parents and students who want to avoid racking up college debt,” he said.
Schultz said the college plans to offer many of its core classes at the Temecula campus and it will buttress those offerings with new programs that directly serve the businesses in the region that are looking for highly-trained workers, such as the area’s healthcare, hospitality and biotech companies.
Temecula Councilman Jeff Comerchero said the college’s arrival creates a youthful vibe in the center of the city that should do wonders for the economy and the neighborhoods surrounding the campus.
“It’s a dream come true for the city,” he said.