Houston all in on life science

Over 2.5 million square feet of life science space under development

Texas Medical Center's William F. McKeon
Texas Medical Center's William F. McKeon (Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty, TMC)

Houston has long been known as a hub for the energy industry, but in recent years it’s also emerged as a leader in the life science sector. 

The Bayou City is now home to over 700 life science companies and ranked 13th among the nation’s top life science markets, according to a 2022 CBRE industry study, which includes perennial powerhouse life science markets such as Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The ranking marks a promotion of sorts from prior years, when Houston was designated as an “emerging” life science hub rather than an established center of the sector.

Houston’s gains have come on everything from biotech startups to pharmaceutical companies sparking a flurry of mixed-use  development across the city’s Inner Loop. Some of the more prominent projects include:

Ion Building | 4201 Main Street:

The six-story, 270,000-square-foot Ion is the newest addition to the emerging Innovation District dubbed The Ion in the heart of Midtown. The building, which was previously Midtown’s premier Sears department store, cost an estimated $100 million to renovate. It includes North America’s largest climate technology and sustainable energy incubator, Greentown Labs Houston. The Ion will be home to startups, accelerators, and other organizations focused on innovation in the life sciences sector. The project is being developed by Rice University.

Levit Green | 3131 Holcombe Boulevard:

Expected to be a multipurpose life science center, Levit Green is a 53-acre mixed-use life science district currently under construction between Old Spanish Trail and Hermann Park. This carefully curated masterplan will include office, retail and dining locations to accentuate its lab facilities. Eventually, it’s also expected to include residential units. Levit Green’s goal is to be an all-purpose district for Houston’s booming life science sector with space designed to house multiple tenants on a single floor to promote collaboration.  

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Its first building, appropriately dubbed Levit Green Building I, will be a five-story 290,000-square-foot center with 26,000 square feet on the ground floor specifically dedicated to lab incubators and manufacturing space. Directly tied to the inaugural building will be a one-acre man- made lake with a promenade dotted with outdoor rooms and a waterfront café for professionals to enjoy the lakeside ambiance. At full buildout, it will also include a standalone vivarium, restaurant, outdoor garden and fitness center for on-site workers.

Dynamic One |1891 Old Spanish Trail:

Developer Beacon Capital Partners is designing the futuristic center as part of a 37-acre life science complex called TMC Helix Park. Dynamic One will be phase one of the campus development and it will span 368,000 square feet anchored by retailers and restaurants. Baylor University signed as the site’s first tenant. The research university closed on 114,000 square feet of the phase one development and plans to dedicate it to laboratories, research offices and startup space. Baylor is hoping to expand its presence in Houston’s life science sector, with research and corporate partnership.  

At full buildout, TMC Helix Park will include a 521-room hotel, 350-unit residential tower, and nearly 1 million square feet of research and collaborative space among other developments and amenities. Dynamic One is expected to be delivered this summer.

Texas A&M Innovation Plaza | 1020 Holcombe Blvd:

Two life science-centered towers are coming to TMC. Texas A&M partnered with Medistar Corporation on a $500 million mixed-use complex at Innovation Plaza between Holcombe Boulevard and Main Street. It will include student housing units, medical research offices and laboratory space.  

Building one, dubbed the Horizon Tower, will stand 30 stories, the first 13 stories dedicated to parking, spanning 515,000 square feet devoted to the development’s medical research and laboratories. Life Tower, a 19-story mixed-use project, will include retail lots and restaurants on its ground floor and student housing for Prairie View A&M University’s College of Nursing. The Innovation Plaza is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2024.  

Read more

Baylor's Rock D. Morille with 1953 Butler Boulevard (LinkedIn, Google Maps, Getty)
Baylor med school plans high rise in TX Medical Center
Levit Green in Houston with Hines Managing Director John Mooz and Sino Biological Inc.'s Dr. Rob Burgess (LinkedIn, Levit Green, Hines)
Hines signs Sino Biological to Levit Green in Houston
Houston Methodist's Marc L. Boom, 6551 Bertner Avenue (Houston Methodist, Getty)
Texas Medical Center to expand with $37M parking garage
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