The Real Deal Miami

Wexford secures 80,000-square-foot lease for UM Life Science and Technology Park

By Alexander Britell | June 17, 2010 11:00AM

Phase 1 of the project is estimated to cost $80 million.

The University of Miami has signed a long-term lease for 80,000 square feet in the University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park in Miami’s Health District, which is west of Overtown near the Dolphin Expressway.

The lease is thought to be for 15 years, although financial terms were not disclosed.

Wexford Miami, a Florida subsidiary of Maryland-based Wexford Equities, is also in serious negotiations with three potential tenants for the site.

While the University of Miami has lent its name to the park, stemming from an affiliation agreement with what is an independent Wexford development, and the fact that it sits on university-owned land.

It was not a foregone conclusion that the university would lease space there, however, said Joe Reagan of Wexford Miami.

“The landlord never expects anyone to sign a lease,” he told The Real Deal. “We entered into the development agreement with them without the agreement that they would take space. But we were hopeful that they would. We were working with them on a couple of opportunities, like the tissue bank, and this made the most sense.”

According to Rich Schuchts of Jones Lang LaSalle, the exclusive leasing agent for the development, while it was not a coincidence that UM leased at the park, it was a natural tenant for the property given that the space is unique in Miami.

“This is what Wexford does,” he said. “This is their business, and they do this in other hubs around the country. They did not have a requirement for this, that this be an anchor; it just naturally sprang [up] because it’s something that’s hard to accommodate elsewhere.”

The UM Tissue Bank, which is a facility focusing on soft tissue transplantation research, is taking 50,000 square feet of the lease, moving from its current location at the UM Medical Center, where it occupies just 10,000 square feet.

The other 30,000 square feet will be occupied by research labs.

Reagan said the company was in negotiations with three companies, including a pharmaceutical company looking to work with the medical center’s clinics, a company working to distribute a new cancer treatment drug, and a surgical device manufacturer looking to relocate to Florida.

“We’ve talked to a lot of smaller companies, that are also either licensing technology from the University medical center or are interested in collaborating with researchers at the medical center,” Reagan said. “Some of those might be one thousand to two thousand square foot tenants, but will be in a special development suite that we’re planning.”

The lease agreement is for space in Phase I of the University of Miami Life Sciences and Technology Park, a 252,000-square-foot property. When complete, it will be comprised of five buildings totaling approximately 1.6 million square feet of space. Phase 1 will cost approximately $80 million to construct.

The lease at the new project follows a series of high-profile construction announcements by the Scripps Research Institute in Palm Beach County, which is similarly intended as a biotech hub.