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Heating Real Estate Market for Biotech Print E-mail
Monday, 24 July 2006
The large glass-paneled research building sits directly across a square from Genzyme Corp.'s sleek, green headquarters. To cut its losses, Vertex sublet space in the building, first to Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. in fall 2004, then to Genzyme in early 2005. ``That one building was the biggest swing in the whole market for lab space," said Steve Purpura, a partner at Richards Barry Joyce & Partners, a Boston real estate firm that advises life-sciences companies and landlords. Now, if you're looking for 25,000 square feet of class A lab space in East Cambridge, you have few choices."

The numbers tell the story: Of nearly 5 million square feet of lab space built in the Kendall Square biotech hub, only 5.1 percent is available for lease directly from building owners. Two years ago, he said, the overall lab vacancy rate in Kendall Square was 26.2 percent.

Rents are rising. Winters said that two years ago, lab shell space -- empty space that hadn't been converted into offices and labs to meet a tenant's specific needs -- was leasing for $45 a square foot, plus the tenant's share of the costs of utilities, building operations, and real estate taxes. Now, space is leasing for close to $60 a square foot, Winters said, equal to the previous market peak in 2001.

Rents for office space are also moving up, said Deb Gould, managing director of the Boston real estate services firm Spaulding & Slye.

Several large deals have dried up available lab space, the brokers said.Schering-Plough Corp. , the large pharmaceutical company in Kenilworth , N.J., recently leased an additional 64,000 square feet at 320 Bent St. in Cambridge, bringing total space leased in the building to more than 130,000 square feet. The space accommodates Schering's research institute.

Elixir Pharmaceutics of Cambridge subleases 21,000 square feet in a building at One Kendall Square that houses the local research operations of California biotech giant Amgen Inc. William K. Heiden, Elixir's chief executive, said he doesn't think Amgen will renew the sublease when it expires next year.

By Mabelle Sese

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