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Thousand Oaks Biotech Growth Picking Up Speed, Developer Interest

Beginning with the founding of Amgen in the early 1980s, Thousand Oaks has been nurturing its growing biotech and life sciences sector.

Especially in the past two or so years, city officials and industry professionals working in the area say that growth has really picked up speed with more companies putting down roots and choosing to expand here and with developers like Alexandria Real Estate scooping up properties for redevelopment to meet the industry’s needs.  

Thousand Oaks' life sciences sector is growing in industrial parks like this one, the Conejo Spectrum.

Thousand Oaks is experiencing a boom in biotech demand and has been hyper-focused on expanding this sector,” Newmark Senior Managing Directors Patrick DuRoss told the San Fernando Valley Business Journal in a statement last year, after representing Alexandria Real Estate in the $8.1M purchase of a 65K SF industrial building at 1300 Rancho Conejo Blvd. that the buyer planned to convert into biotech labs. The area’s reputation as the longtime home of Amgen and Takeda has been boosted even more after “seeing a significant increase in capital and demand from smaller, growing biotech companies over the past two years,” DuRoss said.

Alexandria owns two other buildings on Rancho Conejo Boulevard and is reportedly working to acquire other properties in Thousand Oaks. 

“We feel good about their commitments to our community and we think it’s a bellwether for more success to come,” Thousand Oaks City Manager Andrew Powers said.

Alexandria isn't the only developer at work in Thousand Oaks. Life sciences development firm Hatchspaces and Chicago-based Singerman Real Estate acquired 161K SF in the Conejo Spectrum, a master-planned industrial development, in 2019 with the goal of building lab space there. At the time the deal was announced, Hatchspaces co-founder Allan S. Glass said that the area felt “a lot like San Diego’s early years when Hybritech alumni began spinning out new companies, like seeds in a biotech forest.”

The city has made extensive efforts to support the life sciences and biotech companies that have been drawn to it. Thousand Oaks’ city council developed a biotech first economic development strategic plan a number of years ago, Powers said, and the city has been committed “in an acute way” over the last five years. Industry experts working in the area described city officials as a facilitator or partner that really understood what these companies need and what benefits they bring to a city.

“Thousand Oaks is not just the cornerstone of our broader Southland life science ecosystem, but a fantastic case study for all that we can achieve when local government, elected officials and the industry work closely together,” said Biocom LA President Stephanie Hsieh

“We saw tremendous potential for building a fully integrated biopharmaceutical hub in this area” because of the city’s demonstrated support for these types of companies, said Sean Harper, co-founder of Westlake Village Biopartners, a venture capital firm. Harper and the firm’s other founder, Beth Seidenberg, were very familiar with the area, having worked for years at Amgen.

“We’re incredibly encouraged by what we’ve seen happen just in the last two and a half years since we closed our first fund and set up shop here,” Harper said. Since its 2018 founding, the firm has raised over $825M that funded the founding of 15 companies to date, many of them in Thousand Oaks, Harper said.

Investment in the last 18 months seems to be in renovations and retrofits of existing buildings, Power said, though there is space for ground-up and developers are taking advantage of that. Sares Regis announced in March that it was building just over 172.5K SF of industrial space in Thousand Oaks because of the demand for high-quality space.

Though the project, built on spec, is not being tailored exclusively to biotech or life sciences tenants, city representatives said that the developers were building it with those tenants in mind and, in the announcement for the project, SRG Commercial Development Senior Vice President Steve Fedde referenced “an explosion of growth of high-tech and biomed companies since Amgen settled here in 1980.”

Related Topics: Life Sciences, Biotech