A rendering of The Hub @ New Brunswick — Courtesy: New Brunswick Development Corp.
By Joshua Burd
As young life sciences companies search for lab and R&D space, Dan Loughlin sees a new frontier emerging in the years to come — urban centers.
According to the JLL broker, biotech and pharmaceutical firms are increasingly looking for space in cities, often in buildings that they can repurpose to meet their needs. The strategy goes hand in hand with seeking a more flexible design in their laboratory space and the desire to attract young talent.
“Whether you’re in the office space or the lab space … it’s about talent recruitment competitiveness,” Loughlin said. “And we think being in these urban markets is a requirement for a lot of these companies going forward.”
That could ultimately bode well for urban hubs such as Newark and Jersey City, which have buildings that may be suitable for an adaptive reuse, Loughlin said. For instance, a former manufacturing building would be well equipped to handle the needs of a life sciences operation, such as heavy floor loads, additional power and strong utility infrastructure.
A preference for an urban setting could also drive new construction as existing R&D space becomes increasingly scarce in New Jersey. In that scenario, Loughlin sees New Brunswick as an especially viable option.
“New Brunswick, to me, has all the elements of a Cambridge-Boston or San Francisco,” said Loughlin, whose firm is marketing a large mixed-use “innovation center” campus in the city with New Brunswick Development Corp. He pointed to the city’s higher education, the state medical school, mass transit and health care institutions. “And I think if we’re going to see new construction, that’s where it will be.”