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Biotech Companies Grab Leases At Alexandria’s 'The District'

The S.F. Peninsula remains busy with companies growing their life sciences footprint, eating up both existing space and new construction as soon as it hits the market.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a major player in life sciences, has been steadily building new labs in the subregion in response to high demand from companies seeking proximity to research centers like Stanford University, access to talent and infrastructure-ready space. Its new San Carlos campus, the Alexandria District for Science & Technology, also known as “The District,” is already being divvied up by biotech companies. 


Cancer immunotherapies developer Iovance Biotherapeutics Inc. is movings its headquarters to 825 Industrial Road in The District, according to a Feb. 8 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Iovance leased about 50K SF of labs and offices in Suite 400 beginning Feb. 9 with tenant improvement work to follow. The deal comes with a rent abatement period that lasts for 210 days after the TI work is complete and a monthly base rent price tag of $280K that is subject to an annual 3% increase, according to the SEC filing. The rental rate is in the ballpark of the overall average asking rent of $5.51 per SF for Q4 2020 life sciences space in San Mateo County, according to a report from Cushman & Wakefield, but higher than the Bay Area average rate of $4.46. 

Iovance isn’t the only newcomer to The District. Enzyme engineering company Codexis Inc. signed a lease for 37K SF of office and lab space in the same building on Feb. 8, according to an SEC filing. The company will continue to occupy its headquarters in Redwood City. The space will be ready for occupancy by 90 employees in Q4, according to a press release. Codexis’ monthly base rent is estimated at $200K plus the 3% annual increase.

“We are investing in this expansion of our operations to enable further growth in our discovery and R&D capacity,” Codexis President and CEO John Nicols said in the release. “Codexis has grown dramatically over the past few years as we established ourselves in the life sciences tools and biotherapeutics markets and further expanded our sustainable manufacturing business. We anticipate these trends will continue accelerating, with new partnerships in these verticals, as well as self-funded clinical development programs.”

Vaccine-maker Vaxcyte Inc. and drugmakers Allakos Inc., ChemoCentryx Inc. and Atreca Inc. all signed recent leases at The District, the S.F. Business Times reports.

Alexandria has been building The District over the past several years to be a destination for life sciences development and research on the Peninsula. Part of the multi-building campus that runs along Industrial Road and Commercial Street is still under construction and is about a 10- to 15-minute walk to downtown San Carlos. 

Alexandria, whose tenants also include coronavirus vaccine-makers Moderna and Pfizer, reported a total 2020 revenue of $1.9B, representing 23% growth from the prior year, according to a press release. Funds from operations amounted to $924M. The release also stated that the company’s investment-grade credit ratings rank in the top 10% of publicly traded REITs.