With hours to go before the deadline passed, Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn Wednesday submitted the city's bid to host the headquarters for the research center set up under Proposition 71, the $3 billion bond measure for stem cell research approved by voters last November.

The mayor's proposal was submitted to an independent oversight committee, and calls for 17,000 square feet of office space at City National Plaza (formerly ARCO Plaza) at Fifth and Flower streets in Downtown L.A. to be used for the headquarters. Thomas Properties Inc. owns the two buildings totaling more than 2 million square feet at City National Plaza; chief executive Jim Thomas has been a close Hahn ally and is also on the board overseeing the $1.2 billion Grand Avenue project.

Bidding among California cities for the headquarters of the newly formed California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has been intense. Although it would employ only a few dozen people, the institute headquarters is expected to be a major magnet for other research companies and institutions as a potential biotechnical hub.

The search subcommittee of the citizens' oversight committee for CIRM will choose a top site and runner-up on April 22, with a deal expected to be inked sometime in May.

In the weeks leading up to Wednesday's bid deadline, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego all announced they were submitting bids, as did several smaller cities, including Emeryville in Northern California. Hahn announced L.A.'s intention to bid on Feb. 14.

In addition, major universities around the state are preparing to launch their own stem cell research centers to try to capture some of the $3 billion in funds. On Wednesday, officials with the University of California Los Angeles were set to announce the formation of a $20 million research center with 12 faculty positions.

The University of Southern California, meanwhile, has been trying to set up a biomedical research park near County-USC Medical Center that it envisions also becoming a center for stem cell research.

In a press conference announcing the bid, Hahn mentioned both university's efforts in the biomedical research arena as key reasons why the institute's board should site their headquarters in Los Angeles.

The city also offered free access to the Los Angeles Convention Center for the institute's larger meeting needs, as well as $1 million in foundation grant funding to help support the institute's administrative needs. In his bid letter, Hahn mentioned that the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Keck Foundation had agreed to put up a total of $500,000 toward that grant funding.

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