For an industry that relies on certainty, you can be certain of the fact that New Jersey is undersupplied when it comes to high-quality, turnkey laboratory and manufacturing space sought by many life sciences companies, especially in a place long known as the Medicine Chest of the World. It’s a story I’ve covered for several years and continue to revisit, thanks in part to the commercial real estate owners, brokers and other professionals who continue to find opportunity among pharmaceutical and biotechnology users.
We do exactly that in this month’s cover story, which comes on the heels of Onyx Equities’ recent acquisition of the 108-acre Merck & Co. campus in Kenilworth. It was a fresh reminder of the ongoing demand from established players, startups and a growing pool of international users that are searching for this type of technical life sciences space and the opportunity for landlords that can provide it. Onyx, for its part, was eager to grab one of the state’s few remaining legacy Big Pharma campuses, where it can offer some 1.5 million square feet of move-in-ready lab space, in an asset class that is time-sensitive and cost-prohibitive to build on spec. Other owners, such as New Brunswick Development Corp., hope to accommodate lab users as part of the upcoming New Jersey Health + Life Sciences Exchange project in the Hub City, where it will leverage the presence of high-profile anchor tenants inside the sweeping mixed-use complex.
We expand on this topic in a separate feature, highlighting life sciences users that are converting office buildings to meet their lab and manufacturing needs. That brings us to Warren, where PTC Therapeutics will occupy 360,000 square feet for not only its headquarters, but a large laboratory facility, under a lease with Rubenstein Partners LP and Vision Real Estate Partners. The deal is the highest-profile instance to date of such a project in New Jersey, in a trend that experts say is poised to continue, assuming pharma and biotech firms can find viable candidates to repurpose.
Our April issue also includes a look at Perth Amboy, where officials are prioritizing redevelopment of both the city’s waterfront and its commercial district. This follows years of fits and starts that have hindered large-scale progress in the bayfront community in Middlesex County, amid the prospect of sometimes protracted industrial cleanups and the tangle of local politics. But with new leadership in place, the municipality is laying the groundwork to create a new master plan and attract new private investment.
It was a tumultuous first quarter for both the economy and commercial real estate, with an uneven pace of transactions and other concerns looming, but we can be thankful that spring has sprung. I’m also thankful to cover an industry in a state that is constantly evolving, with an engaged audience that continues to support what we’re doing at Real Estate NJ. Until next month, thanks for reading and enjoy the issue!