Idexx Laboratories announced plans Tuesday to build a $60 million corporate headquarters that could accommodate 700 new employees in Westbrook.

The project is scheduled to start in September with the construction of a $30 million, 107,000-square-foot building that will house offices for a 300-person administrative staff, a fitness center and a food service area. It is expected to open in August 2013.

The timing for the second phase of the project, an adjacent 100,000-square-foot administrative building for 400 employees, depends on the company, said Dick Daigle, director of facilities for Idexx, which makes veterinary testing products.

Idexx originally announced plans to build a corporate headquarters in Westbrook in 2008, after Pike Industries announced an expansion of its quarrying operations nearby.

Idexx said at the time that having an active quarry so close to its headquarters would be incompatible with its image and didn’t match the vision for a high-tech business park that had been articulated by the city.

The company put the headquarters on hold, as the high-profile conflict played out in front of local boards and in court.

Last fall, the city, Idexx and Pike reached a consent agreement that put restrictions on the Spring Street quarry and gave Idexx the assurances it needed to move forward with its expansion.

Mayor Colleen Hilton said she was “just absolutely thrilled” about Idexx’s announcement Tuesday. She said the new jobs created could benefit the city by employing local residents and by bringing more people into Westbrook to spend money.

Keith Luke, Westbrook’s economic and community development director, said Idexx continues to be “a poster child for our business attraction efforts” in both the city and the region, and the expansion only reaffirms that.

“If Idexx can grow and succeed here, we know other businesses can as well,” he said.

Idexx had fewer than 200 employees when it moved from Portland to Eisenhower Drive in Westbrook in 1991, Daigle said. The company now employs 1,400 people at that site, another 300 on Thomas Drive in Westbrook and 4,800 worldwide.

Hilton said it’s particularly gratifying to watch Idexx expand again, just as Pike is gearing up to start operating its Spring Street quarry.

Although Idexx has moved past its conflict with Pike, at least one other nearby business still has its own expansion on hold because of the quarry plans.

Artel, Inc., along with Smiling Hill Farm, is appealing the consent agreement in Maine Supreme Judicial Court, because they don’t believe it is restrictive enough on Pike blasting activity. Daigle said Idexx is confident the outcome of that case won’t affect its plans.

George Rodrigues, Artel’s senior scientific manager, said the company, which manufactures instruments for measuring liquids, purchased a second building in Westbrook’s Five Star Industrial Park in 2008 to accommodate its growth. It will be used for storage until there’s a court ruling, he said.

“It’s our hope that we can stay in Westbrook,” Rodrigues said. “We can’t commit to that until the legal proceedings are settled.”

Leslie Bridgers — 791-6364

[email protected]


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