Boston-based life science developer Longfellow Real Estate Partners is betting big on Sorrento Mesa as the future home of San Diego’s rapidly expanding biotech industry.
The company announced last week that it has acquired Centerpark Plaza, a 10-building business park on nearly 17 acres of land off of Flanders Drive, just south of Mira Mesa Boulevard and west of Camino Sante Fe.
Longfellow purchased the portfolio of properties for around $130 million from Montana Avenue Capital, the developer said. It’s planning to invest undisclosed millions in converting the one- and two-story buildings, built in the 1980s, into top-tier research and lab suites.
“The Centerpark portfolio is attractive to us for a number of reasons, including the unique ability to acquire a land site and campus of significant scale within a core biotech submarket,” Longfellow Managing Director Nick Frasco told the Union-Tribune. “At 17 acres, the site provides opportunity for enhancement of the existing buildings in addition to densification through development of additional square footage with which to serve our tenants.”
The office park currently includes 256,000 square feet of space, although the developer expects to nearly double the total square footage by tearing down one of the single-story structures and erecting a new, multi-level facility.
Started 13 years ago, Longfellow is a privately held firm with more than 12 million square feet of lab and tech space spread across San Francisco, San Diego, Raleigh-Durham and Boston-Cambridge. The real estate investor first planted roots in the San Diego market in 2018 and has since completed eight acquisitions. Its local portfolio now totals 1.3 million square feet of research space spread across Sorrento Valley and Sorrento Mesa.
The latest deal comes on the heels of a teardown project less than two miles west of Centerpark Plaza along Oberlin Drive, where it’s planning to put up 310,000 square feet of new life science space. Longfellow bought the 4-acre lot in March, paying nearly $26 million for the land, according to real estate tracker CoStar. In addition, it’s working to convert two, freeway-adjacent towers on Scranton Road into a life science campus called Biovista after acquiring the site for $130 million in 2020.
Sorrento Mesa continues to prove popular with biotech builders and investors who have been snatching up older office buildings and open plots of land in anticipation of growing demand from life science startups and publicly traded drugmakers. The trend has been fueled by a lack of space in Torrey Pines, where the industry originally sprouted up to be near famed research institutions and UC San Diego.
Longfellow’s Centerpark Plaza project includes a revamp of building interiors and facades, the introduction of high-end labs, and an all-new central quad and extensive outdoor amenity space, Frasco said. The developer will also build a fitness center and collaborative spaces for tenants consistent with offerings at its other properties.
Longfellow will finish the conversion of Centerpeak Plaza on a rolling basis. The first round of research suites are expected to be completed in 12 months.