More than a century ago, the Venable Tobacco Company’s Durham site sorted and redried tobacco for shipment to cigarette manufacturers.

Today the storied brick building at the corner of Roxboro Street and East Pettigrew Street stands as a testament to urban redevelopment.

The property, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was purchased by Scientific Properties in 2002. The developer commenced a refurbishment of the former tobacco procressing facility into modern office and laboratory space.

The Venable Center’s 90,000 square feet of space is now occupied by a diverse mix of tenants that includes independent newspaper Indy Week and law firm Hutson Law. But the property also carries a distinct life sciences mark with GrassRoots Biotechnology, which moved in in 2009, and Precision BioSciences, which relocated from Research Triangle Park to the Venable Center a year later. In 2011, the Center of Innovation for Nanobiotechnology, or COIN, relocated its headquarters to the Venable Center.

“We moved into our current location in October of 2010,” says Chelsea Lynam, office manager for Precision BioSciences. “We wanted to be in downtown Durham to be closer to all the entrepreneurial activity, great restaurants, and activities like the ballpark and DPAC for our employees and business partners. It is also worth noting that, at the time, it was actually less expensive for us to build out a new research center and business office within the existing Venable tobacco warehouse than to try and up fit any of the available lab space that met our needs in RTP.”

Urban revitablization and historic preservation are hallmarks of Durham-based Scientific Properties.

The firm was founded in 2000 by physician turned developer Andrew Rothschild. Scientific Properties’ first project was the Triangle Biotechnology Center, lab and office space built at the site of the Clark & Sorrell Garage on Foster Street, the oldest repair garage in Durham when it closed in 2000.

The Triangle Biotechnology Center currently houses research space for Duke University