OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s announcement months ago that it was planning to move its headquarters from Melville to Westchester County brought a torrent of groans and protests from Long Island business and political leaders who said the company's impending departure deals a severe blow to the region's efforts to build a biotechnology industry.
The move has not been canceled, but Westchester County officials said last week that some construction of OSI buildings in Ardsley had been stopped. OSI's new parent, Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma, is reviewing all options in wake of the $4-billion acquisition.
Laurence Gottlieb, Westchester's director of economic development, was asked in an interview what the situation was regarding the OSI project in Ardsley.
"We've received mixed messages," Gottlieb said. "Some [crews] are continuing to work, and others are told to hold off for now."
Paul Feiner, supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, which includes Ardsley, said, "Nobody told us they're not coming. Maybe they're going a little slower."
Both Gottlieb and Feiner said they fully expect the OSI headquarters to relocate to Ardsley by the fall.
Kathy Galante, an OSI spokeswoman, declined specifically to say whether construction has been stopped. "Generally speaking, as part of . . . [the acquisition] they [Astellas] are reviewing all of their options. They're not able to comment further." Calls to Astellas USA were not returned.
A few weeks ago, Kevin Law, the LIPA chief who will become president of the Long Island Association later this year, spearheaded a group that wrote to Astellas chief executive MasafumiNogimori, asking that OSI remain on Long Island.
"It would be my hope that Astellas decides to grow and expand in New York and [it would be] great for Long Island if they decide to keep OSI here," Law said.
Law mentioned the "natural synergies" for OSI here, including Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Stony Brook University, North Shore University Hospital and, eventually, the new medical school at Hofstra.