Page 16 - RE-NJ
P. 16

14 APRIL 2023
Plans for H-1, the first phase of the New Jersey Health + Life Sciences Exchange
in downtown New Brunswick, call for three major components: a facility known as
the New Jersey Innovation HUB, a new home for the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a center for what’s known as translational research. A second phase calls for a large lab and office building of roughly 500,000 square feet, which will seek an anchor tenant but also have space for additional lab users.
“In our opinion, you can’t talk about it — you have to actually make the improvements to make the building lab-ready and really convince a tenant that
they can go
there,” said
Dan Loughlin, a
vice chairman
with JLL, who
leads the firm’s
life sciences
practice group.
Doing so
requires a significant investment in mechanical systems and utility infrastructure, he said, “and what we’ve seen is that people that propose it conceptually have not been successful.
At 95 Greene, he added, “Thor made that MEP infrastructure investment — and we’re making deals there now.”
New Brunswick Development Corp., or Devco, hopes to find something of a middle ground at a massive mixed-use project in New Brunswick that
is set to break
ground later
this year. The
first phase of
what’s known
as the HELIX,
or the New
Jersey Health
+ Life Sciences
Exchange, will include roughly 170,000 square feet of incubator
and research space that will be
used by the project’s anchor tenants — including Rutgers University, Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJ Barnabas Health — as well as startups and entrepreneurs. Devco President Chris Paladino said the team recently adapted its plan to now include closed lab spaces of about 3,000 square feet, citing the demand from startups that will quickly expand from three or four employees and will need additional benches, plus conference, office and support space.
What’s more, he said, Devco has fielded inquiries from established companies — some of which
may be partnering with Rutgers — that need a private research space ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet. Such a space would likely complement the other
uses inside the planned 12-story, 573,400-square-foot building,
which will also be the new home of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a nearly 250,000-square-foot Rutgers Translational Research Facility.
“We’ve tried to build in flexibility,” Paladino said, noting that the second phase of the HELIX calls
for a large lab and office building, which is also drawing interest. A lease with an anchor tenant would allow Devco and its joint venture partner to break ground on what could be a roughly 500,000-square- foot building, providing the infrastructure for additional lab users in the 10,000- to 75,000-square- foot range, he estimated. That would create a home for startups that outgrow both their incubator space and the suites that Devco will offer in the first phase.
“I think we’re going to fit a number of niches,” Paladino said. “The one thing I am absolutely certain of
is, within six months of opening, I’m going to say, ‘Boy, I wish we had built more,’ because there is insatiable demand at the moment for laboratory space.”
Lab users’ need for flexibility and room to grow has been critical
at several of New Jersey’s legacy pharmaceutical campuses — in Bridgewater, Nutley and Hopewell,
Dan Loughlin
Chris Paladino
among others — which have accommodated tenants of all sizes. That demand is likely to continue for the next wave of life science facilities in the
Dan Spero
state, JLL’s Dan Spero said.
“Those campuses need some anchors, but by the time those anchors have established, there’s also companies that have taken 5,000 to 10,000 square feet,” said Spero, a senior managing director with the firm. “And it’s important to be able to accommodate all of them, because you never know when that 5,000-foot tenant is going to turn into a 500,000-foot tenant.
“We didn’t have a lot of good, small tenant spaces. And with the opening of these campuses, it’s allowed for some of those smaller tenants to establish and grow here.” RE
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