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Old Merchants Ice building to receive $24 million makeover and new purpose

Monday business and community leaders turned out to applaud a $24-million dollar venture that may mean medical miracles in the future.

SAN ANTONIO — The old Merchants Ice building on East Houston Street is heating up with a new development.

Monday business and community leaders turned out to applaud a $24-million dollar venture that may mean medical miracles in the future.

From the shell of the abandoned and gutted iconic east side landmark, they are transforming the cracked concrete and rusted rails of the old building and turning dirt into dreams with a new research facility.

Jeff Wolf is the CEO of the parent company, Heat Biologics. 

Wolf told the crowd "We intend to do big things here. We are gearing up to bring new business to Texas, hire scores of future pioneers in medicine and science!”

Scorpion Biological Services is bringing high tech jobs to the heart of the city.

They say their hope is to develop a new crop of in-demand workers who will be able to grow up here, get excited about science and technology, and be able to support their families in the neighborhood where they grew up.

Paige Annolino will be leading the effort to connect the kids to the technology.

"It opens up doors to young women in particular, seeing another female in a position that they aspire to, gives them something to look forward at," Annolino said.  “Our goal is to engage the youth from multiple middle schools and high schools.  When you engage them when they are younger,  you tend to show them that they are capable of doing something that they thought they weren’t before,” Annolino said.

District 2 City Council Representative Jalen McKee Rodriguez, who taught math in local schools before his election victory, said “This right here is an opportunity for them to see science in action, in their own backyards and I can't overstate the value of that.”  

Looking to a brighter future, McKee-Rodriguez said “One thing that’s been clear over the past several decades is that there has been a lack of investment in the east side and our students feel that. They see that we place an emphasis on math and science in school, but they don’t necessarily see that in the community.”

With 20,000 square feet of labs, classrooms and meeting spaces, the company will deliver new therapies and cures that are untreatable or treatment-resistant today.  “At Scorpion, we bring a boldness and a spirit to the fight, one that we help will triumph in the end,” Wolf said.

Wolf said from construction to completion, they hope to be open for business early next year.

Credit: KENS 5

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