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Life Science Sector Expands Far Beyond the Established Clusters

When it comes to life sciences real estate, the biggest keep getting bigger. That’s to say that the leading developers in the sector, such as Alexandria Real Estate Equities and Blackstone’s Biomed Realty, continue leading the way, as do the most established clusters. Combined, Boston, San Francisco and San Diego boast an estimated 16.6 million square feet of lab space under construction and/or under renovation, and another 54.5 million square feet of proposed development. 

However, a Newmark report overview report of the sector also identifies plenty of activity coming from new entrants into the marketplace, and from emerging clusters. “While groups with a proven track record for success have been the fastest to pivot to life science investment and fundraising during the pandemic, institutional investors and private equity groups have created special-purpose life science funds and platforms to compete in the space, such as Tishman Speyer and Bellco Capital’s Breakthrough Properties,” states the report, for which Newmark’s Daniel Littman was the lead author. 

And while Boston and the two most-established California markets take pride of place, with other leading markets including New York City and Austin also in the mix, emerging clusters such as Chicago and Houston can offer “comparably attractive opportunities for investors to transact at more favorable pricing” as well as with less competition, the report states. 

Both of these markets have mega-projects to call their own: Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards mixed-use development in Chicago, which has a considerable life science component; and the Texas Medical Center in Houston. 

Meanwhile, Newmark reports, life science investment and leasing activity has expanded in many non-traditional life science markets such as Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City. In common with emerging clusters, these nascent markets rely on top education and research institutions along with public-private partnerships to spur the establishment of life science ecosystems, often from the ground up. 

In Dallas, for example, the 23-acre Pegasus Park represents the city’s first master planned project to cater to startups, including those in the life science and healthcare industries. It’s being developed through a partnership with Boston-based incubator BioLabs. 

“As is the case with tertiary markets in other property types, these small life science markets offer abundant opportunities for first movers but are more speculative in nature,” the report cautions. “Investors must be keenly aware of the life science supply-demand balance.”  

Pictured: Pegasus Park in Dallas.


Inside The Story

Newmark’s Daniel Littman

About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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