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Trammell Crow, Georgia Tech Ready To Launch Major New Life Sciences Development

Atlanta's nascent life sciences industry is getting a boost in the form of a big new project by Trammell Crow and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Rendering of Science Square, the mixed-use life sciences campus next to Georgia Tech in Midtown.

Trammell Crow and Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures, the nonprofit technology investment, incubator and real estate development arm of Georgia Tech, have signed ground lease agreements and are set to start construction on Science Square, a development that has been in the works for years under the moniker Technology Enterprise Park.

The first phase is set to include a 365K SF speculative lab and office tower called Science Square Labs, as well as a 280-unit residential building that will be developed by High Street Residential, Trammell Crow's residential subsidiary, according to a press release. The project will rise on 18 acres along North Avenue and Northside Drive next to Georgia Tech's North Avenue Research Area, a little more than a mile west of Tech Square in the heart of Midtown.

The 13-story commercial tower is planned to include lab space and clean-room build-out, ground-floor retail, chemical storage, conference space, an indoor/outdoor tenant lounge with a catering kitchen, and a deck with a skyline view, according to the release. The parking deck, shared by residents of the apartment building, also will feature a 38K SF solar panel array. The first phase is slated to deliver by the first quarter of 2024.

“Science Square offers unparalleled opportunities for life sciences innovators to tap into Atlanta’s diverse talent base,” Trammell Crow Senior Vice President Katherine Lynch said in the release.

The firm also announced that Portal Innovations, a life sciences venture capital firm, plans to lease a 35,500 SF full floor at Science Square Labs to incubate its portfolio startups. Trammell Crow also is building out a full floor of speculative lab and office suites space for life sciences companies, it said in the release.

Atlanta's life sciences scene is in its infancy, but it has been among the Sun Belt markets to grow in prominence in recent years, according to a recent CBRE report.

As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counted more than 18,600 life, physical and social science jobs in Metro Atlanta. CBRE found that between 2019 and 2020, Metro Atlanta saw a 15% gain in research and development jobs, the biggest percentage jump across major markets in the U.S.

Still, Metro Atlanta's life sciences real estate market is tiny compared to the giants such as Boston, San Francisco, San Diego and New Jersey. But some real estate experts say Trammell Crow will likely find a lot of pent-up demand for its development once it delivers.

“I think it will lease up right away. We're desperate for more life science and bioscience. There's almost nothing,” said Jodi Selvey, an office tenant rep in Atlanta with Colliers. “I have no idea why it's taken so long. But I think it's a very smart move and will probably push other developers into that arena.”

Sara Barnes, Avison Young's Southeast Region Lead for Innovation and Insight, said the project could help the life sciences industry's growth accelerate in Metro Atlanta if it is successful.

“With the talent coming out of Tech and Emory [University], we can see it grow. Will it ever become a dominant industry here? I don't know, to be honest. But I think this will be a good first case study,” Barnes said. “It could grow into something huge or it could be one-and-done. But having Tech here, I think, gives [Science Square] a good base to be successful.”