City encouragement, alongside a booming market, have made life science leases hotter than ever.

But because of the detailed construction work and funds that go into creating wet labs, it’s a commitment for owners, says Jonathan Schifrin of CBRE. His team is the leasing agent on both the Hudson Research Center at 619 W. 54th St. in Midtown West and the Taystee Lab Building at 450 W. 126th St. in Harlem.

Among the requirements are additional electricity, back-up generation, plumbing and venting as well as loading areas. Maintaining sterility could mean numerous exchanges of outside air per hour, adds Schifrin.

Due to all the mechanical work, it can take $450 per foot to upgrade and deliver a pre-built lab from raw space. As a comparison, traditional office space can be delivered for around $125 per foot.

Even if the base building already has extra electricity, plumbing and venting installed, it could still cost $250 to $300 per foot to create lab-specific spaces.

That’s why renting labs can run into the triple digits, and why the city is supplementing these projects with its land, buildings, grants and tax abatements.

In 2010, the Alexandria Center in Kips Bay, along the East River and by both NYU Langone’s campus and Bellevue Hospital Center, made waves when it opened on 3½ acres.

Now, the Alexandria Center has two buildings and will soon add a third at its campus between First Avenue and the FDR Drive at East 29th Street. The Alexandria Center’s LaunchLabs provides move-in-ready office/lab space, shared equipment and services, creative amenities, access to startup capital and engagement with its network.

Its first 309,035-square-foot building at 450 W. 29th St. includes the 25,000-square-foot Apella conference center, two restaurants by Tom Colicchio, an urban farm, other green space and an onsite parking garage. This building houses life science companies including Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Roche.

The balconied Taystee Lab Building.
The balconied Taystee Lab Building in Harlem is another new arrival.Janus

The second building, with 418,639 square feet, opened in 2013. CoStar real estate data shows just 30,000 square feet still available. Its largest tenant is the New York University Proteomics Laboratory.

Developer Alexandria Real Estate Equities is now planning a third building with 550,000 square feet of laboratory and office space.

According to Alexandria, one of the largest biotech owners in the country, 60 percent of the US’s pharmaceutical industry is here.

Alexandria also bought the Pfizer campus buildings on East 42nd Street in Midtown that could be redeveloped when that pharmaceutical company moves out.

In Long Island City, Alexandria has a smaller project underway at 30-02 48th Ave.

‘There is no shortage of investment and talent [in New York].’

 – Bill Harvey of Newmark Knight Frank

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has a $500 million initiative called LifeSci NYC. It already committed $100 million of that towards an Applied Life Sciences Hub project.

The NYCEDC is also seeking partners for a number of other projects. In September, it partnered with Deerfield Management to redevelop the 12-story 345 Park Ave. South into a life sciences campus.

Programming will be operated by Deerfield in partnership with MATTER, a Chicago-based nonprofit healthcare incubator. Expected to open in early 2021, more than 200,000 of its 300,000 square feet of life sciences space will be wet labs.

Deerfield is also supplying $30 million that will expand NYCEDC’s LifeSci NYC Internship program and Deerfield’s CUNY Fellows, Break into the Boardroom and Women in Science initiatives.

NYCEDC also awarded Bio- Labs@NYULangone a $5 million grant towards 50,000 square feet of new incubator lab space, which had its ribbon-cutting with NYC- EDC President James Patchett in December. He says it is “the city’s largest life-science incubator, with 22 companies already on site.”

It also approved a $10 million fund to help incubator grads and launched an internship program for life sciences talent.

While NYU Langone has a new science building with wet lab space at its First Avenue campus, the Upper East Side is home to other research hospitals and campuses.

Rockefeller University’s River Campus has over 160,000 square feet of laboratories, conference rooms, and common areas.

Labs and incubators can also be found at JLabs at 101 Ave. of the Americas, which is an initiative of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, New York State and the New York Genome Center. In addition, the Alexandria Center’s LaunchLabs, the BioBat space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and various college campuses — including the new Renzo Piano-designed Jerome L. Greene Science Center at Columbia that will include the Zuckerman Institute — all have labs and incubators.

Uptown, Harlem is home to City College’s Center for Discovery and Innovation, Harlem Biospace, the New York Structural Biology Center and the Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Last month, King Street Properties and the Gural family’s GFP Real Estate broke ground on Innolabs in Long Island City, which will contain more than 250,000 square feet of life-sciences labs and other facilities.
Last month, King Street Properties and the Gural family’s GFP Real Estate broke ground on Innolabs in Long Island City, which will contain more than 250,000 square feet of life-sciences labs and other facilities.Neoscape

“Tenants coming out of those incubators will propel the industry,” says Bill Harvey of Newmark Knight Frank, who is leasing Innolabs, an upcoming project in Long Island City.

For New York, Harvey says the challenge has been availability of top-tier lab space. “There is no shortage of investment and talent,” he says.

Innolabs, being developed by King Street Properties and the Gural family’s GFP Real Estate, celebrated its groundbreaking in December. The 266,800-square-foot T-shaped life sciences facility is being redeveloped at 45-18 Court Square West for occupancy in 2021.

Along with laboratories, it will have a bike room with showers and lockers, plus space for conferences and events.

Back in Manhattan, on the West Side, Taconic Partners and Silverstein Properties are working on the Hudson Research Center near the Hudson River.

Schifrin’s group at CBRE is also leasing the Taystee Lab Building, which topped out this week. Developed by Janus Property Company in the Manhattanville Factory District, the 350,000-square-foot life sciences building will have nearly 20,000 feet of outdoor terraces across its 11 floors and courtyard.