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Life Sciences Real Estate’s Biggest Deals Of 2023

Life sciences real estate sales volumes plummeted this year as biotech firms slowed their growth amid dropping VC funding and uneven demand. 

Where $6B in sales took place in 2022, just $386.6M in lab space sold through the end of July, according to Yardi Matrix’s August National Office Report. At the same time, supply has and will continue to expand in coming quarters, and leases are getting smaller. Small startups are clinging to precious VC dollars, extending runways and forgoing larger spaces, suggesting a difficult market for many quarters to come.

The means aren’t there, and the marketplace sits in limbo. There was a significant drop-off in venture capital funding —  Pitchbook predicts this year will see $24B total, the lowest figure in the last four years — and a significant slowdown in property sales.

Only two of this year’s sales would have been worth enough to make it onto last year’s list of largest deals. 

Many of the year’s biggest life sciences transactions, like Norges’ $746M investment in Kendall Square lab space and Alexandria Real Estate’s partial sale of a future Eli Lilly site to Japan’s Mori Trust, weren’t full sales, and don't qualify for the list.

But they signified a retrenchment toward certainty and surefire locations. While this list isn’t as remarkable as past years, in terms of dollar amounts, these deals are more impressive in context of a very difficult market, and they may be positive signs of where activity will congregate when the market swings back. 

Norges Bank invested in this Binney Street property in Boston, a partial sale that was the year’s biggest transaction at $746M.

Boston Buyer Enters San Diego With Conversion Buy

BuyerKing Street Properties


Price: $36M

Market: San Diego

It has taken years for Boston’s King Street Properties to find the right entry point to the San Diego market. This single-story 60K SF office at 5825 Oberlin Drive presents an easy conversion opportunity, with the firm planning to split it into a series of 15K SF spaces for startups coming out of the incubation phase. The renovation should finish by mid-2024. 

Divco Picks Up In Torrid Torrey Pines Submarket As ARE Divests


SellerAlexandria Real Estate Equities

Price: $86M

Market: San Diego

Torrey Pines has been one of the strongest submarkets in San Diego for years. So when ARE put a 75K SF, ready-made lab space in the neighborhood on the market, DivcoWest jumped on the rare chance to pick up a purpose-built lab with such a sought-after address —11119 North Torrey Pines Road. Bought by ARE in 2007 for $42.6M, the 4.4-acre property was rehabbed and redeveloped in 2012. It isn’t the flashiest space on the block, but even a used space on this street raises eyebrows. 

Moderna Expands Boston-Area Footprint Despite Vax Booster Bust


SellerOxford Properties

Price: $91M

Market: Boston

This year has been a tough one for firms like Moderna, which saw its fortunes skyrocket during the early days of Covid vaccine manufacturing and then plummet back to Earth in recent months as booster demand has cratered. But, with billions of dollars in profit and plans to expand the scope of mRNA technology in more profitable ventures, Moderna still needs more biomanufacturing space. This pickup of an already-developed space in the suburb of Marlborough, Massachusetts, is just the first step, as the firm is expected to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to outfit the space and eventually ramp up production when it opens in late 2024. 

ARE Resumes Rightsizing, Sells At Loss

Buyer: Barings and Greatland Realty Partners

Seller: Alexandria Real Estate Equities

Price: $177.5M

Market: Boston

Alexandria and CEO Joel Marcus rarely miss. But this sale was an example of the firm taking a profit hit and focusing on its so-called megacampus strategy, as Marcus would reiterate on earnings calls throughout the year. ARE acquired the property in January 2020 for $235M, aiming for a conversion. At roughly the same time, ARE announced it was selling a 286K SF portion of 421 Park Drive to the Boston Children's Hospital. Alexandria will still develop and manage the entire Fenway-area property. 

TPG Real Estate Partners sold its CenterPoint campus in Waltham for $578M, the year’s biggest life sciences sale.

Philly-Area Pfizer Property Traded In Bet On Big Pharma

Buyer: David Werner Real Estate


Price: $180M

Market: Philadelphia

In this year’s complicated and chilly market for VC funding and property sales, many analysts expected that Big Pharma — sitting on piles of cash and anxious about patent cliffs — would start making significant mergers and acquisitions, pumping money into a nervous market. Big Pharma did see some big buys and invested quite heavily in its biomanufacturing and plant portfolios. David Werner Real Estate saw a big opportunity in this Pfizer-owned campus outside of Philly, which counts Dow and Wyeth as tenants (the latter re-upped its lease after the deal closed). Werner has bet on Big Pharma before, buying Pfizer’s Midtown East HQ in 2018.

Newly Finished Denver Device Campus Flipped As Colorado Deals Dominate

Buyer: Real Capital Solutions

Seller: Ryan Companies U.S.

Price: $188M

Market: Denver

A newly finished campus trading in the same year it was finished recalls the deal frenzies of years past. But this nine-figure sale of the 42-acre, 404K SF headquarters of life sciences and medical device firm Medtronic exemplifies the energy and investments taking place in Denver and Boulder: One of last year’s biggest deals was BioMed’s $625M pickup of a life sciences campus in Boulder.

Louisville, Colorado-based Real Capital Solutions made the biggest deal in its 40-year-history, acquiring prime biotech real estate in a booming market with a long-term tenant in place. RCS Chief Acquisitions Officer Adam Abeln said the buy was attractive because of the quality tenant and offers long-term security in a particularly uncertain market. With other massive research parks going up in nearby Superior and Boulder, it is another sign of Colorado’s increased prominence in biotech development. 

Buyers Flock As Alexandria Sheds More Assets 

Buyer: Alloy Properties

Seller: Alexandria Real Estate Equities

Price: $365M

Market: Boston

It’s a testament to the sheer size and scale of Alexandria, and its dominant position in life sciences real estate, that its program to shrink its footprint and focus on core assets — what it has called “value harvesting” — has made multiple appearances on the list of the year’s biggest transactions. This deal with Alloy, TPG Real Estate Partners’ life sciences portfolio company, includes a pair of buildings in Cambridge and three in Waltham, Massachussetts. 

The sale also includes a bit of local development history. The Cambridge buildings, developed in 2002 and named the Alexandria Science Hotel, were some of the REIT’s first Cambridge properties. Alloy plans to turn the properties into the Graduate Research Opportunity campus and reach out to post-incubation stage startups. ARE made a nice profit on the Waltham properties, which were originally picked up in 2017 for $71M.

Half-Billion Buy In Boston Burbs Underscores Boom in Waltham

Buyer: CS Capital Management

Seller: TPG Real Estate Partners

Price: $576M

Market: Boston

This deal reads like it took place in 2021 or 2022. The sale of the 615K SF campus echoes previous deals that have made Waltham an emerging nexus of life sciences activity in the Boston metro. Alexandria Real Estate Equities spent $330M on Reservoir Woods East, a three-building campus nearby, in 2020, and Lincoln Properties opened a 140K SF life sciences development on Third Avenue in 2021. 

The three-building campus has been renovated and resold a few times in recent years. In 2018, Hilco Real Estate spent $86M buying the properties, once part of a Raytheon manufacturing hub, from Rubenstein Partners and Saracen Properties. Hilco spruced the campus up and sold it to TPG in December 2020 for $344M. 

The largest deal of the year, it cements the strength of the surrounding Charles River Mill District and also highlights the declining fortunes of lab sales in 2023. The sale took place in January, and uncertainty and financing challenges have made similar transactions hard to come by.