A report issued in June by global commercial real estate firm Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis illustrated the strength of the life sciences in the nation’s top regional clusters and beyond.1 Between 2001 and 2021, the life sciences workforce expanded 79% to approximately 500,000 jobs—nearly 10 times the overall U.S. job growth rate of 8% during that period.
While the life sciences sector is experiencing falling stock prices for public companies and fewer financings for private ones, the industry continues to enjoy a wave of new activity by developers of laboratory/office sites and by venture capital (VC) funds.
Let’s revisit the life sciences regions that we briefly described and ranked in our June issue of GEN in an article entitled, “Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters.”2 In this article, we add news and information that clearly indicates that these regions are still booming.
The nation’s largest biopharma cluster saw Takeda lease about 600,000 square feet in June for an R&D center at BioMed Realty’s 585 Third Street property in Kendall Square, Cambridge. Also planning a new Cambridge R&D center is AstraZeneca, which will consolidate 1,500 staffers at the headquarters of subsidiary Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Beacon Capital Partners and Nordblom have proposed a new 295,000-square-foot biotech building in Boston, next to the BEAT (Boston Exchange for Accelerated Technology) on Morrissey Boulevard. Also in Boston, Eli Lilly plans to lease from Alexandria Real Estate Equities the 334,000-square-foot 15 Necco Street property for its recently launched $700 million Institute for Genetic Medicine.
San Francisco Bay Area
Eikon Therapeutics will relocate its headquarters within the region from Hayward to Millbrae. The new headquarters will occupy approximately 285,000 square feet within the 637,000-square-foot Alexandria Center for Life Science. Tenaya Therapeutics in June completed a 94,000-square-foot Genetic Medicines Manufacturing Center in Union City, 30 miles from its headquarters in South San Francisco—where officials in May approved IQHQ’s plans for a 295,000-square-foot R&D building at long-vacant 580 Dubuque Avenue. The new fully electric building will accommodate 842 employees while providing just 346 parking spaces (to encourage public transit use). Earlier, IQHQ acquired the Elco Yards property, with plans to transform the site into uses that include 600,000 square feet of life sciences/office space in downtown Redwood City.
New York/New Jersey
In the Big Apple, the New York City Economic Development Corporation anticipates that that an additional 10 million square feet of wet laboratory space will be brought online over the next 10–15 years. That includes a 200,000-square-foot property for which construction is set to start next year at 309 East 94 Street, a property co-owned by Nuveen Real Estate and Elevate Research Properties. Alexandria Real Estate Equities in June opened its second Alexandria LaunchLabs in the New York City, at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center campus. Also in June, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals broke ground on a $1.8 billion expansion of its Tarrytown, NY, headquarters. Finally, the New Brunswick Development Corporation is constructing the $665 million, 550,000-square-foot New Jersey Innovation and Technology Hub.
BioHealth Capital Region (Maryland/Virginia/Washington, DC)
Trammell Crow announced plans in May to build an initial 757,000-square-foot life sciences campus within Johns Hopkins University’s Belward Campus in Montgomery County, MD’s Shady Grove section, with potential to expand to approximately 1.6 million square feet across seven buildings. Kite Pharma, a subsidiary company of Gilead Sciences, received FDA approval in April to begin commercial production at a new 275,000-square-foot center in Frederick, MD, for the manufacture of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies. In Virginia, Thermo Fisher Scientific is adding 500 jobs in and around Richmond through a $97 million expansion of clinical research operations, and Virongy Biosciences plans up to 70 new jobs by expanding within the Northern Virginia Bioscience Center, which opened in March in Prince William County.
San Diego—which hosted this year’s BIO International Convention—saw Canada’s Entos Pharmaceuticals expand stateside into a 9,600-square-foot R&D site within The Muse at Torrey Pines. Also in June, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) agreed to acquire home-grown Turning Point Therapeutics for $4.1 billion. BMS earlier inked a lease with Alexandria Real Estate Equities for a 427,000-square-foot R&D building to rise in University Town Center, consolidating regional operations now across four buildings. On San Diego’s Pacific coastline, IQHQ is building its $1.6 billion, 1.7 million-square-foot Research and Development District (RaDD), and Guardant Health in April leased about 37,000 square feet at 10578 Science Center Drive in Torrey Pines, where it plans to double its regional staff from 55.
Los Angeles/Orange County
Breakthrough Properties, an LA-based joint venture of Tishman Speyer and Bellco Capital, in April closed the largest real estate fund ($3 billion) dedicated exclusively to the life sciences. Also in April, Pasadena-based Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals joined Vivo Capital to launch Visirna Therapeutics with $60 million and plans to develop four Arrowhead RNAi cardiometabolic therapeutics in Greater China. Beverly Hills-based Kairos Ventures later closed a $58 million third fund focused on life sciences and physical science startups. And Thousand Oaks-based Amgen has sold an 8.2-acre property where the company used run a welcome center. The property was bought for $25.5 million by the Latigo Group, which plans to repurpose the site to house up to 333 apartments, 20% at below-market rents.
Warren, NJ-based Tevogen Bio opened R&D space at the Wanamaker building in Philadelphia, where the University of Pennsylvania chose Longfellow Real Estate Partners to build 455,000 square feet of R&D and biomanufacturing space at Pennovation Works, a University of Pennsylvania real estate asset. Also in Philly, Breakthrough Properties plans 200,000-plus square feet of “best in class” life sciences space at the 2300 Market Street block in Center City, and Spark Therapeutics is developing a $575 million gene therapy innovation center in University City at Drexel University’s campus. The Center for Breakthrough Medicines is accelerating plans to build the world’s largest cell therapy manufacturing operation in King of Prussia, where Exelixis moved 140 staffers into “intermediate term” space rather than Boston/Cambridge, MA. A permanent “Exelixis East” hub “in close proximity” is under consideration.
At the foot of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle, Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation and LPC West broke ground in June on the 197,000-square-foot 222 Fifth in South Lake Union, set for 2024 completion. Seattle-based Sana Biotechnology now plans to build an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing site in Bothell instead of in the San Francisco Bay Area—a change expected to save $100 million. Several developments involve Bothell-based Seagen. First, Seagen announced plans for a 270,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in nearby Everett. Second, the company’s president, CEO, and chairman Clay Siegall, PhD, abruptly resigned after his arrest on a domestic violence charge. Third, a news report appeared that Seagen might be acquired by Merck & Co., which has already partnered with Seagen on two development projects.
North Carolina (including Raleigh-Durham and Research Triangle Park)
Astellas Gene Therapies opened a $100 million manufacturing facility in Sanford in June, while Durham-based Precision BioSciences inked an up-to-$1.5 billion collaboration with Novartis focused on in vivo gene editing R&D. Gene therapy developer Kriya Therapeutics (partially in Research Triangle Park) completed a $270 million Series C financing in May. Earlier, Amgen broke ground on a $550 million manufacturing plant in Holly Springs, where Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is building a $2 billion cell culture facility. Trinity Capital Advisors and Starwood Capital Group plan to develop Spark LS, a $1 billion, 1.5 million-square-foot life sciences campus, in Morrisville. Finally, Eli Lilly plans to open a $1 billion-plus facility in Concord. The facility will be the company’s second manufacturing site in North Carolina.
Chicago VC firm ARCH Venture Partners in June closed its ARCH Venture Fund XII, with $2.975 billion for early-stage biotechnology firms. On Chicago’s South Side, a development group called GRIT Chicago plans to break ground on the 500,000-square-foot Bronzeville Innovation Center, which will house Chicago ARC, a life sciences accelerator being developed with Israel-based Sheba Medical Center. Sterling Bay is constructing the $6 billion, 53-acre Lincoln Yards property, including the 280,000-square-foot ALLY at 1229 West Concord life sciences building, where work started in October 2021. In April, Mark Goodman & Associates acquired the site of its planned 16-story, 500,000-plus-square-foot lab/office building at 400 North Elizabeth Street in the Fulton Market neighborhood.
1. Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE). Life Sciences Research Talent 2022. Published June 13, 2022. Accessed July 12, 2022.
2. Philippidis A. Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters. Genet. Eng. Biotechnol. News 2022; 42: 20–21.