Those in Philly’s life sciences sector have long been calling for more space to accommodate the quickly growing industry.
We heard late last year that the demand for life science labs and facilities was at an all-time high, and developers were trying to keep up. Philadelphia has an existing 10 million square feet of life sciences inventory with plenty of in-development projects that would add to that count.
A CBRE report from December showed there were 61 tenants seeking lab space and life sciences facilities, a nearly 40% increase in demand for space compared to a year ago.
Enter: Pennovation Works‘ newest $365 million project. Longfellow Real Estate Partners announced this week it won a bid to expand the 23-acre, University of Pennsylvania-affiliated research and innovation hub in Grays Ferry. The two new buildings, slated to go next to the existing Pennovation Center at the complex at 3401 Grays Ferry Ave., are set to be completed in Q4 of 2025.
The development is said to be a 455,000-square-foot project, with 387,000 of those square feet going to R&D and 68,000 meant for biomanufacturing space.
The new development will be spread across two six-floor buildings and will also offer flex lab and office space. The facility will have rooftop access with views of Philly’s skyline and Penn’s campus, and share amenities with the entire Pennovation Works campus, Longfellow said.
Ed Datz, the executive director of real estate, facilities and real estate services at Penn, said the project was born from the desire to meet the demands of graduating companies on the site, and to be able to welcome new entries to the Pennovation ecosystem. About 70 companies are 400 people are currently located at Pennovation Center and its Inventor office building.
“The Longfellow development includes manufacturing capability that further augments the offering at Pennovation Works,” he told Technical.ly via email. “We see this as additional capacity to support our ecosystem and the innovation/life sciences ecosystem of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.”
Penn Senior EVP Craig Carnaroli seconded that notion, saying the pace of innovation coming out of the university along with with scientists “generating a record number of new FDA approvals” warranted more space.
“We also have the policies in technology transfer to align with industry to bring new life-saving therapies and treatments to market,” Carnaroli said. “And, with Pennovation Works, we operate a campus where these ideas can be nurtured into companies.”
The project is Longfellow’s first entry to the Philadelphia market, though it’s worked on other life science facilities. That includes its acquisition of 43TEN Labs in Queens and its partnership with the New York City Blood Center to develop Center East, a 13-story, 600,000-square-foot life science hub in Manhattan that’s breaking ground next year.
“Attracting Longfellow to Philadelphia and Pennovation is a vote of confidence in Penn’s efforts to grow Philadelphia’s innovation ecosystem and enable the Lower Schuylkill master plan to flourish,” Carnaroli said.
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