Banker & Tradesman: Biotech Developers May Have to Widen Horizons

Sep 25, 2023

By Cameron Sperance, Special to Banker & Tradesman

The following is an excerpt from a Banker & Tradesman article originally published on September 24, 2023:

While the data offers cautionary guidance for the short term, industry experts say it’s still too early to ring the alarm bell on development prospects. The amount of wiggle room in inventory provides growth opportunities for companies that have yet to establish a beachhead in Greater Boston, and others still in growth mode.

“I understand the apprehension that the real estate community has and haven’t seen these vacancy rates in a long time,” said Ben Bradford, head of external affairs at MassBio. “But for the health of the life sciences ecosystem here in Massachusetts, these rates feel a whole lot healthier than the rates that we were seeing three or four years ago because it’s allowing companies to grow as needed.”

The dog-eat-dog leasing climate of not-so-long-ago was cutthroat due to the region’s negligible vacancy rate. It wasn’t unheard of for companies to take larger swaths of space than they needed, and squat on it because it wasn’t clear when available opportunities would again present.

“Companies that might not have been ready for 50,000 square feet took it because they didn’t know if they’d ever seen 25,000 square feet again,” Bradford said.

“My guess is over the last five years or so they didn’t even think about Massachusetts because certainly the cost of doing business here is high, and then if you’re going to get into a battle for lab space, it may not make sense to enter the Massachusetts market,” Bradford said. “But those battles aren’t necessarily going to be there because the space is now available. So, I think we could see some international companies explore Massachusetts for business development and innovation centers in a way that we haven’t in the last decade or so.”

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