Yale is acquiring 137 acres of property and 1.5 million square feet of buildings in West Haven and Orange from pharmaceutical company Bayer HealthCare, Bayer officials announced Wednesday afternoon.

The deal would increase the University’s laboratory space by 550,000 square feet and, at least initially, will most likely house School of Medicine researchers, Yale President Richard Levin said. The complex of 17 buildings includes three large science research buildings constructed within the last decade.

Levin declined to reveal the cost of the acquisition, but he said it was a “very, very attractive deal.” For the price Yale paid, the deal would have been attractive even if it included only the three laboratory buildings, he said.

“To build new would be much more expensive than what we had to pay to buy the entire site,” Levin said.

It generally costs Yale $650 to $700 per square foot to build lab buildings, Levin said. That means that constructing the amount of lab space Yale is acquiring would cost at least $360 million.

In addition to the lab space, the site includes 600,000 square feet of storage space and 275,000 square feet of administrative space. Levin said the storage space might be used to store overflow from Yale’s collections at the Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Yale University Art Gallery. The site also affords space for Yale’s expansion into the future, he said.

“This is a once in a century opportunity,” Levin said.

School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said Tuesday that the medical school could use the West Haven facilities for new initiatives that require a lot of lab space, though most professors prefer to have labs on the New Haven campus. The Bayer site might also be used for the school’s continuing education program for practicing physicians, he said.

“The medical school is always looking for more space and more buildings for research, for its clinical practice, for administrative uses,” Alpern said. “The Bayer facility certainly has a lot of that.”

Bayer announced in November that it was vacating the property as part of a corporate restructuring. At the time, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell appointed Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Bruce Alexander, whose office is orchestrating Yale’s deal with Bayer, to a board that considered alternatives for the site. When Bayer announced that it would open the site up to auction, Yale was one of 15 bidders, Levin said. Most of the 15 were real estate developers who would not have used the facility for science purposes, he said.

Yale will make voluntary payments to West Haven and Orange to partially compensate for lost tax revenue, according to the same proportions it uses in calculating its contribution to New Haven, Levin said.

The deal does not affect the University’s plans to add 2 million square feet of buildings in New Haven, Levin said.

Bayer will fully vacate the site by 2008.

Check back at www.yaledailynews.com for further updates to this developing story.