From strip mall to life sciences: Alexandria puts $125M toward biotech hub

REIT buys San Diego strip mall as site for labs, offices, shopping center and hotel

A photo illustration of the planned life sciences campus (Alexandria Real Estate)
A photo illustration of the planned life sciences campus (Alexandria Real Estate)

Pasadena-based Alexandria Real Estate Equities has paid $125 million for a San Diego strip mall it aims to turn into a major life sciences campus, shopping center and business hotel.

The real estate investment trust, a giant among developers of life sciences campuses across the nation, plans to expand San Diego’s significant foothold into biotech, according to Bisnow, citing the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Alexandria bought the 13.9-acre Costa Verde Center from Regency Centers, a Florida-based real estate firm. Both companies have teamed up to finance a mixed-use campus at 8560 Genesee Ave.

Approved plans call for 178,000 square feet of shops and restaurants next to 400,000 square feet of bioscience labs and offices, plus a 200-room business hotel.

“This is absolutely one of the best sites on the West Coast,” Alexandria co-Chief Investment Officer Dan Ryan told the Union-Tribune. “It’ll go from being an old, dilapidated retail center to a vibrant, exciting community center and we’re really enthusiastic for the potential of the site.”

The property will be served by a new trolley line across the street from the shopping mall Westfield UTC. It’s also near the University Towne Center submarket, a major hub for life sciences in San Diego. The region near UC San Diego has more than 550 science and technology companies.

Alexandria aims to link its redeveloped Costa Verde Center with its other life sciences properties in the region to create a megacampus in San Diego, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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The company now has life sciences properties in San Diego, Torrey Pines, University City, and Sorrento Mesa, San Diego.

The publicly owned firm plans a similar move in Palo Alto, where it just purchased four office buildings at Stanford Research Park for $446 million to add to its six nearby life sciences holdings.

The purchase brought the value of its Palo Alto portfolio to more than $1 billion.

It also paid $21 million for a site with plans to build a 578,000-square-foot life science campus in Millbrae.

It spent $1.5 billion in the last quarter of 2021 on life sciences acquisitions, according to documents filed with the SEC, Bisnow reported.

[Bisnow] – Dana Bartholomew

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