San Diego REIT to pour $1.7B into life-sciences real estate

Demand for biotech and research space powering sector

IQHQ Stephen Rosetta and the San Diego Research and Development District (IQHQ)
IQHQ Stephen Rosetta and the San Diego Research and Development District (IQHQ)

The life sciences sector has officially become the in-thing for real estate investors.

Highlighting this interest, real estate investment trust IQHQ has raised $1.7 billion, which it plans to use for an existing development pipeline of 4.4 million square feet of life science projects in Boston, San Francisco and San Diego.

The $1.7 billion raise comes just nine months after the Solana Beach, California-based company completed its initial capital raise of $770 million.

IQHQ, formerly known as Creative Science Properties, recently purchased the 26.5-acre Alewife Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which has office and research space. It also broke ground on the Research and Development District, a 1.6 million-square-foot campus in San Diego that will have labs, offices and retail.

While the pandemic has pummeled other commercial sectors, demand for laboratory and research space is flourishing — and office landlords are hoping that the sector will fill the gap left by other tenants.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

In New York, more than $1 billion of venture capital funding poured into life sciences last year, up from $990 million in 2018 and $366 million in 2017, according to JLL.

In Long Island City, Alexandria Real Estate recently announced plans to turn a building once used for bookbinding into more than 175,000 square feet of laboratory and office space. And at 125 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side, Taconic Partners and Nuveen Real Estate are converting a former Disney-owned ABC campus into a 400,000-square-foot research center.

IQHQ CEO Stephen Rosetta said his company focuses on buying and developing new facilities, rather than converting other spaces for use by life sciences companies.

“The demand is for the new facilities,” said Rosetta, who adds that these companies typically want purpose-built spaces rather than conversions.

Rosetta said that IQHQ investors are largely institutional, sovereign wealth funds and large family offices. CenterSquare Investment Management, for example, invested $158 million in its most recent capital raise, according to a release.

IQHQ is led by Rosetta, who opened Cushman & Wakefield’s San Diego County office and held the position of vice chair. IQHQ executive chair Alan Gold was previously the CEO of BioMed Realty Trust, which sold to Blackstone in 2016 in a deal worth about $8 billion