A rendering of the new Novavax campus in Gaithersburg. Credit: File image

The biotechnology company Novavax, which is at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccine development operation, has submitted a new initial site plan to the city of Gaithersburg with the hope of further expanding its corporate campus.

Novavax announced last year that it would take over 122,000 square feet of space at 700 Quince Orchard Road, which it would use for research and development. The company said it would add 400 jobs within four years.

Novavax has 79,000 square feet of office and lab space in Gaithersburg, according to a press release from November.

On Monday, Novavax and its affiliate, 14 Firstfield Holdings, submitted a sketch plan to the City Council and Planning Commission to develop more than 15 acres across three tracts of land. The area is bordered by Quince Orchard Road, Bank Street and Firstfield Road.

The area includes the 700 Quince Orchard building.

Nancy Regelin, an attorney representing the applicant, told the council on Monday that the company expects to occupy the building by the summer.

“Novavax hasn’t even occupied 700 Quince Orchard yet, and they are already projecting that they will outgrow it within a year,” she said.

Block 1 of the sketch plan includes 700 Quince Orchard. Regelin said the company’s new sketch plan includes an additional 10,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space.

Block 2 of the sketch plan includes more than 600,000 square feet of office, research and development space, and integrated light manufacturing space throughout multiple buildings facing Firstfield Road, Regelin said. Some of the buildings would be up to seven stories, she said.

There would also be a parking structure and green space.

“The concept here is to allow for the flexibility to provide third-party provided services to the employees, that could also activate the street frontages along Bank Street or Firstfield, if desired,” she said.

Block 3 of the sketch plan covers two existing buildings on Bank Street and expands their uses to include R&D and integrated light manufacturing.

When Council Member Mike Sesma asked on Monday how many people would work on the campus, Novavax Project Engineer Tarek Kalaaji said it would be more than 1,000, including the expected addition of 400 employees.

The City Council plans to accept public comments until May 14 and hold a policy discussion on June 7.  The Planning Commission will accept comments through April 23 and make its recommendation to the council on May 5.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com