I wanted to create a separate post about this because (i) the firm has had a ton of activity recently and (ii) I think this is one of the most important things happening in Durham and the broader region.
First, some background on the firm from my post about the future of RTP:
"Alexandra Real Estate Equities (“ARE”) is a California-based REIT with ~$18B in assets. The firm focuses specifically on providing specialized office and laboratory space for life science companies and counts the Pfizer headquarters among its 290 properties and 39MM square feet of real estate. The firm historically has focused, naturally, on areas such as Boston, San Francisco and San Diego but in recent periods has made a major push into Durham."
In short the firm is one of the most important life science-specific real estate owners and developers in the country.
Summary of key activity in RTP:
-Construction of the Alexandria Center for Agtech at the former Syngenta site near the intersection of Cornwallis and Miami. The first phase of 175k square feet was unveiled in April 2019 and the second phase of 160k square feet is currently under development. As the name suggests, this is an ag innovation campus focused on crop sciences.
-August 2020 the firm spent $590MM to acquire 253 acres at the Parmer RTP campus. Link
-April 2021 the firm acquires an additional 98 acres adjacent to Parmer site for more than $40MM. Link
-August 2021 the firm acquires the "Genesis at Research Triangle Park" site on Cornwallis, a $91MM purchase for the 100 acre site. In 2018 the Keith Corporation out of Charlotte acquired the site from GSK and said it could support up to 5.5MM square feet of commercial space. Link
-September 2021 the firm acquires the 18 acre site that was previously the Research Triangle Foundation HQ at 12 Davis Drive for $25MM. Link
-Illinois-based Jaguar Gene Therapy announces that it will establish 174k square foot manufacturing facility in RTP owned and operated by Alexandria (wasn't clear if this was at the Cornwallis site or elsewhere). Link
-November 2021 the firm announces plans to begin development on the "Alexandria Center for NextGen Medicines" at the Cornwallis site. First project will be 125k square foot facility for Beam Therapeutics. Link
-Today the firm acquired a group of buildings at 104 TW Alexander for $80MM. Existing buildings on the site total 70k square feet and the site reportedly has room for up to 1MM square feet of additional development. Alexandria chairman Joel Marcus said the firm plans to "bring several of our over 800 innovative client tenants and create a vibrant and updated mini campus for life sciences and clean energy". Link
All told I think it's fair to say that the firm has committed more than $1B in capital to RTP over a very short period of time with presumably a significant amount of additional investment as the firm begins to develop these sites. My personal belief is that this investment is a leading indicator of a true explosion in the biotech/life sciences ecosystem in the next 5-10 years. Very few firms are better positioned to understand which direction the wind is blowing, so to speak, based on their relationships with both mega companies and leading startups.
Bookended by downtown Durham and the future Apple campus, we could be seeing the beginnings of a true innovation corridor in RTP. Recent announcements of the $1B Spark life sciences development in Morrisville near McCrimmon/Airport Blvd (Link) and the 200 acre project The Yield in Holly Springs (Link) should only contribute to this momentum.
In addition, I should add that Hub RTP will also figure prominently into this future landscape as will the various projects underway from Durham Innovation District developer Longfellow (both downtown and in Morrisville).
Well yesterday’s post proved quite timely as Alexandria is in the news again today for their $100MM acquisition of 122 acres off Cornwallis. Unfortunate that the vaccine production factory didn’t happen (more for national health reasons than anything else) but this is likely a better long term outcome as it presumably will attract a variety of tenants. Alexandria chairman Joel Marcus has some interesting quotes in the article that speak to the future of the region. All very promising.