While the city is emerging from the pandemic as a hub for life sciences companies, real estate developers are racing to keep up with demand for pre-built labs.
Taconic Partners and Silverstein Properties announced in April that Bill Gates-backed c16 Biosciences Inc. will establish its executive headquarters and research lab at Hudson Research Center, a 320,000 square-foot, mixed-use building at 619 W. 54th St.
“Combining the city’s focus on biotechnology with the fact that most of the world’s major consumer brands have headquarters here, I believe NYC is the new consumer biotech capital of the world,” said Shara Ticku, co-founder and CEO of c16 Biosciences.
As a biomanufacturing company, c16 Biosciences uses microbiology to brew sustainable alternatives to palm oil. The current production for palm oil—a $61 billion industry—carries negative environmental consequences. During the summer, c16 Biosciences will move into a 20,000-square-foot space on the seventh floor of the center. The company is moving from the NYU Langone biotech coworking space in SoHo after having completed a $20 million Series A funding round, led by Gates’ Breakthrough Energy venture.
“Hudson Research Center’s pre-built lab is perfectly suited for what we do and where our company is headed,” said Ticku. “Its location, flexible lab spaces and amenities made the building an ideal fit for our team.
“New York has a hustle and energy like no other city in the United States,” Ticku said, “and if you want to build something big and disruptive—like we do, by ending deforestation—New York is the best place in the world to do it.”
The company joins life science tenants Hibercell and the New York Stem Cell Foundation at the Hudson Research Center. The developers expect the building to be fully occupied in the next year.
“There is incredible momentum in the life sciences sector and a severe lack of ready-to-go labs,” said Matthew Weir, executive vice president at Taconic Partners. “I wish we could build these labs faster—that is how active things are right now.”
The presence of world-class academic institutions, nearby pharmaceutical companies and an incredible talent pool are fueling the biotech field in the city, experts say. Because labs are in such short supply, pricing is at a premium to office rentals, a trend that could persist for some time.
“At the moment, close to half of our commercial activity is in life sciences,” Weir said. “I think it will be that way moving forward.”
In March the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai purchased 165,000 square feet for a life-sciences hub at 787 11th Ave. on the Far West Side, which is evolving as a biotech cluster. Taconic recently began construction on a 400,000- square-foot building at 125 West End Ave. The developer expects it to be completed in the first quarter of 2023.