From gun factory to life sciences: New Haven campus lands biotech tenant

Boost for project owned by Twining Properties, L+M and Goldman Sachs

Tri-State /
Nov.November 11, 2020 12:45 PM
The building (Credit: Sylvester Zawadzki)

The building (Credit: Sylvester Zawadzki)

Where the “gun that won the West” was once manufactured, a venture capital–funded drug discovery company has leased 9,800 square feet of laboratory and office space.

The six-story life science building at 115 Munson Street, acquired 12 months ago by a joint venture of Twining Properties, L+M Development Partners and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, is in the Winchester Center technology and life sciences campus.

The site, across the street from Yale’s Science Hill, used to be home to the Winchester Factory. At its height, the factory employed 25,000 people. It closed down in 2006. Winchester marketed its Model 1873 rifle as the gun that won the West, and it was indeed the predominant shoulder firearm of that era.

The joint venture is updating the 145,000-square-foot office building, which was built in 2012, with an overhaul of its entrance, lobby and rooftop amenity space. According to a spokesperson, the joint venture is pursuing a master development plan which would include acquiring the other parcels.

The interior (Credit: Sylvester Zawadzki)

The interior (Credit: Sylvester Zawadzki)

Winchester Works is the first step in the master plan, which could eventually include more than 1,000 apartments, retail and 500,000 square feet of office and lab space. It’s a far cry from the factory where the Model 1873 was made.

“The rifle came from a dingy brick factory in New Haven, Connecticut, the product of men and women who worked in an inferno of noise for $600 a year, 11 hours a day on weekdays, 10 hours on Saturdays,” David Petzal wrote in a 2003 Field & Stream article.

“The city of New Haven is poised to lead the next biotech expansion, and Winchester Works is ready to welcome the companies that will drive future growth,” said Jake Pine, director at L+M.

He boasted, “Our campus is open for business today, while other life science developments in New Haven are still years from completion.”

JLL brokered the deal.

Halda is the first life science tenant at Winchester Works, where Bank Mobile, a digital checking account company, has already leased 34,000 square feet, and Transact Campus, a cashless campus technology company, has leased 12,000 square feet.

In February 2019, Halda Therapeutics, a biotechnology drug-discovery company founded from Yale University, completed a $25 million Series A funding round led by Canaan Partners, 6 Dimensions Capital, Wuxi Healthcare Ventures, Elm Street Ventures and Connecticut Innovations. The drug-discovery company plans to relocate to New Haven in the first quarter 2021.

Scott Phillips, the company’s chief financial officer, said the space at Winchester Works will allow the firm to expand its research capabilities and prepare for growth.

“We are thrilled to be moving back to New Haven, given our close ties with Professor Craig Crews’ lab at Yale University,” said Phillips. “The team at Winchester Works has shown itself to be a leader in bringing much-needed biotechnology lab space into New Haven.”

Investor interest in the life sciences sector has increased in recent months, as researchers pursue a vaccine for Covid. In October, Blackstone sold a portfolio of 93 life-science buildings to a separate fund the asset manager controls for $14.6 billion — a $6.5 billion increase in value from when Blackstone acquired the portfolio in 2016.


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