Developing Flexible Life Sciences Space Is Key In The Next Stage Of Sector's Growth
While the New York City life sciences sector continues to boom amid the coronavirus pandemic, developing space with the flexibility to cater to the needs of a variety of tenants will be crucial in the next stage of the sector’s growth, experts say.
As different branches of life sciences increasingly overlap, there is a convergence of technology required in each lab space and the needs of each potential tenant will become more diverse, those in life sciences development, design and financing said during a Bisnow webinar last week.
“Science was done very differently 10-15 years ago, it was done in silos,” First Republic Bank Managing Director of Life Science Nishta Rao said. “Now … there is this intersection … and that translates into the infrastructure part as well.”
Eugene Diaz, founder and principal of New Jersey-based investor Prism Capital Partners, said that with such a wide variety of research, developers must focus on making a strong foundation that is easy to adapt to a variety of tenants' needs.
“I can tell you from our perspective, flexibility is sort of the key,” he said. "There is so much different research going on today, whether it’s molecular, whether it's biology, whether it's structure, whether it's protein-based or RNA-based, there is really different needs going on, so you can’t really lock yourself into any particular type of laboratory.”
Diaz anticipates lab space built with critical infrastructure and redundancy — such as the correct heating, cooling and air exchanges — will see the most success, he said.
“You can work around not a great laboratory setup if you’ve got critical infrastructure,” Diaz said. “If you know that the experiments that you’re working on are going to be protected throughout the life cycle of that experiment.”
Janus Property Co. is developing a 350K SF life sciences building, Taystee Lab Building, near Columbia University on 450 West 126th St. Janus principal Jerry Salama said while his company has secured leases on some pre-built space, the diverse pool of potential tenants has led his company to focus on developing space with a good foundation and the ability to change the specifics of the space as needed for the tenant.
“Our incentive has been to create all of the infrastructure and redundancy so that we can very quickly, on a custom-basis, build out what that user needs because it varies too much now,” Salama said.
In addition, the panelists say that parts of the sector may take new shape in light of the events of the past year — with a focus on epidemiology.
“I think at this point going forward, we are going to want to be prepared for sort of a next COVID or a next something we need to deal with, and I think this next round of science buildings could set a new standard going forward,” Ennead Architects partner Peter Schubert said.
Schubert said he expects that the growth of New York City’s life sciences sector has just begun and that it is on the edge of becoming a leader in the sector nationally.
“I think New York is well-prepared, and actually very excited, on the precipice of defining a whole new life sciences community,” he said.