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Tishman Speyer, Bellco Capital Launch Life Science Development, Investment Company

Rendering of lab space at 828 Winter St. in Waltham, Mass.

A real estate giant is jumping into the white-hot life science industry.

Tishman Speyer announced Wednesday that it had joined with Bellco Capital to form Breakthrough Properties, a real estate investment and development company focused exclusively on life science. Bellco is the family office of cancer research doctor-turned-venture capitalist Arie Belldegrun.

Breakthrough Properties is starting in the cradle of life science for the U.S.: the Boston metro area, where it has already announced its first acquisition. The 1-acre parcel in the Seaport neighborhood comes with 250K SF of development rights, and Breakthrough has set a 2021 target for its completion. 

Initially based at UCLA, Belldegrun founded Kite Pharma based on his lab's research and sold it for $11.9B to Gilead Sciences in 2017, Bloomberg reports. He has used the capital to invest in numerous life science companies, and said in a statement that he sees a lack of real estate built by people who understand the life science industry.

Belldegrun and Tishman Speyer CEO Rob Speyer will serve as co-chairs of Breakthrough's board of directors, and Dan Belldegrun, Arie's son, will serve as CEO. Dan Belldegrun had worked at Tishman Speyer for seven years, most recently as a senior director, according to his LinkedIn page.

Though the Boston area, especially the Cambridge neighborhood of Kendall Square, has been a hotbed of life science development for years, vacancy rates for new life science space remain vanishingly low. Still, Breakthrough will have major competition in the area in the form of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, perhaps the leader in the asset class that was a driving force behind turning Kendall Square into the hub it is today.

With more land available for development than Kendall Square, Seaport has seen a recent influx of plans aside from Breakthrough's project. Millennium Partners has long been trying to build a massive campus in the area, which at last update would total 900K SF.