An operator of shared life-science office space, Cambridge Innovation Center, plans to use more of the space that it leases in University City for labs amid surging demand from medical researchers.
Cambridge, Mass.-based CIC will spend $11 million to convert 50,000 of its 137,000 square feet it leases at 3675 Market St. in the uCity Square office complex for laboratory use, it said in a release Tuesday.
That space — spanning two stories — is currently used for offices, a spokesperson said.
The conversion will allow CIC to double the number of lab stations in the building to 400, making CIC Labs Philadelphia the company’s largest lab location. CIC operates nine facilities in Asia, Europe, and the United States.
“This is phase two of what we think is possible to support the life sciences community in Philadelphia,” CIC chief executive Tim Rowe said in the release. “CIC’s expansion will be a game changer in the ecosystem, providing a critical bridge for companies as they scale to supporting their own space.”
In a research note this week, commercial real estate firm Newmark classified Philadelphia as the nation’s sixth-ranked market for life sciences, based on factors such as market maturity and future growth potential.
This momentum has prompted a spate of new projects aimed at meeting demand for lab space.
These include Brandywine Realty Trust’s Schuylkill Yards West office, lab and apartment tower, the One uCity building rising as part of the uCity Square complex and the 3.0 University Place offices.
Landlords are also retrofitting existing office space to accommodate life science labs. The former Budd Co. plant in Hunting Park, which at its prime employed about 7,000 workers who made parts for automobiles and trains, is undergoing a transformation into a 2.4 million-square-foot life sciences campus called Budd Bioworks, in the hopes of reinvigorating 25 acres north of West Hunting Park Avenue between Fox Street and Wissahickon Avenue.
Brandywine is turning a 50,000-square foot section of the Cira Centre tower near 30th Street Station into lab and research space, while Keystone Property Group has transformed sections of its Curtis building across from Washington Square into life-science labs and offices for such tenants as Imvax Inc. and Vivodyne.
In all, landlords are in the process of building 2.2 million square feet of new space for life-science tenants citywide, with 1.6 million square feet more in the proposal stage. That would add to 10.1 million square feet of existing space dedicated to the sector.
Outside the city, the University of Pennsylvania’s gene therapy program has signed a lease for 150,000 square feet at a former GlaxoSmithKline property in King of Prussia, called Discovery Labs. The Penn program’s need for specialty lab space outpaced what was immediately available closer to home in University City.