Demand for life sciences doesn’t seem to be letting up.
As the need for wet lab space exceeds the limited supply, more than 36 million square feet of new construction is expected to hit the top 14 life sciences markets across the United States, according to a new report by Newmark.
That comes as $29.9 billion of health care venture capital poured into the market last year, a 36 percent increase from 2019.
Major owners of life sciences space have been aggressively pursuing deals. Alexandria, currently the largest owner of such properties in the country, with about 300, closed on an estimated $3 billion in life sciences real estate last year. That’s in addition to the 2.8 million square feet that the company has under construction.
Blackstone Biomed recorded the largest deal last year with its $3.45 billion acquisition of Brookfield’s 2.3 million-square-foot Cambridge portfolio. The project is slated to close in this quarter.
Meanwhile, prices have skyrocketed. Average monthly pricing for life sciences investment sales has more than tripled from May 2020, reaching $627 per square foot in December.
The pandemic has done more than just bolster demand. Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and vaccine manufacturers, got into the action by acquiring properties that it occupies in San Diego and Raleigh. The company now owns 4 million square feet across a dozen properties.
Traditional offices, which have been imperiled by the pandemic, have found a savior in life sciences. Life sciences investment as a percentage of total office volume reached a record high of 16.4 percent in 2020, more than double the 2019 figure, as $15 billion of fundraising and $10 billion of closed real estate transactions spilled into the market.
Still, with fitting issues and zoning prerequisites, converting some commercial spaces, such as retail, into life sciences venues can be difficult.