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Tishman Speyer JV Acquires Center City West Property, Plans Life Sciences Overbuild

Yet another large-scale player has planted a flag in Philadelphia's life sciences market.

A rendering of the planned life sciences conversion and overbuild at 2300 Market St. in Philadelphia.

Breakthrough Properties, a joint venture formed in 2019 by Tishman Speyer and Bellco Capital, has purchased the property at 2300 Market St. with the intention of developing a life sciences building, Breakthrough announced in a press release Monday. Plans call for an eight-story project, to be designed by local architecture firm KieranTimberlake, that preserves the facades of the three century-old buildings on the site.

The project is anticipated to total 200K SF, but no further details about the project's construction or timeline were announced. The acquisition is Breakthrough's first in the Philadelphia market, which it purchased from an entity affiliated with Lubert-Adler Real Estate Funds, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports

In its short life span, Breakthrough has quickly spun up a pipeline of life sciences developments in the most coveted markets for the sector in the U.S. and the UK. Its developments total more than 4.6M SF, the announcement stated. On the strength of its gene therapy and cell therapy industries, Philadelphia is among Breakthrough's areas of focus, putting it in the same class as the Boston, San Diego, London and the North Carolina Research Triangle markets, Breakthrough CEO Dan Belldegrun told Bisnow in an interview published Monday.

"[Philadelphia] is a market in the U.S. that we're very excited about," Belldegrun said in the interview. "There are a lot of venture capital dollars going into Philadelphia. It's become the hub for cell and gene therapy with a lot of innovation, particularly in the cell and gene therapy space. The technology from Moderna’s mRNA vaccine for Covid was largely produced through research out of UPenn. So you have a great academic institution, you have a lot of talent, you put a lot of growth in biotech around key sectors like cell and gene therapy."

Breakthrough isn't the first multibillion-dollar investment fund to have added Philadelphia holdings to a similar list of markets. A $1.45B fund raised by GI Partners purchased a lab and medical office building in University City last year

Publicly available property records didn't reflect the sale as of May 17, with the most recent transaction tied to the property being a new mortgage from Citizens Bank in 2021 that appears to correspond with assembling the three buildings from two lots into one. The LLCs listed as owning both properties share a single business address with local multifamily developer PMC Property Group.

Breakthrough may be new to the region, but Tishman Speyer isn't. It has owned a cluster of office buildings in the near suburb of Bala Cynwyd since 2004 and announced plans in November for a mixed-use redevelopment of the site.