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Oxford acquires $200M Research Commons life science portfolio

Oxford Properties Group is closing in on $5 billion in investments, development and redevelopment...

IMAGE: Research Commons is a five-building, life science-focused portfolio in North Carolina. It has been acquired by Oxford Properties. (Courtesy Oxford)

Research Commons is a five-building, life science-focused portfolio in North Carolina. It has been acquired by Oxford Properties. (Courtesy Oxford)

Oxford Properties Group is closing in on $5 billion in investments, development and redevelopment commitments to the life science sector in 2021. The Toronto-based real estate owner, developer and manager made its 12th and 13th North American acquisitions of the year in the sector, buying Research Commons and an adjacent development property in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., for $200 million.

The facility includes five existing life science and office buildings which comprise Research Commons, 18 acres of development land and the forward purchase of a 95,000-square-foot current goods manufacturing facility (cGMF) on an adjacent property at Research Triangle.

The area is the largest research and innovation park in the United States.

“Substantially growing our dedicated life sciences business has been, and remains, one of our highest-conviction investment strategies and top global priorities at Oxford,” said Chad Remis, executive vice-president, North America at Oxford Properties, in the announcement.

“Today’s acquisitions build on that conviction by entering a major global market with the opportunity to deliver a world-class, customer-focused innovation and growth hub in one of the highest-barrier-to entry-life science markets in the U.S.”

Research Commons

Research Commons at 79 TW Alexander Dr. comprises 430,000 square feet of existing space dedicated both to life science and office space. Oxford intends to convert existing office space to the life science sector as opportunities arise.

When this and future development plans are executed, Research Commons (including the CGMP development on the 14.5-acre parcel at 78 TW Alexander Dr.) will comprise about 940,000 square feet of life science space.

“This ecosystem of facilities will offer solutions for customers at all stages of their life cycle by providing institutional-grade infrastructure, service and atmosphere that attracts the best and brightest talent then helps them to focus their efforts on bringing life-changing therapeutics to market,” Remis said in the release.

The properties are Oxford’s first direct acquisitions in North Carolina. A top-five life science market in the U.S., it is known for its trio of major research universities – Duke, UNC and NC State – for which the Research Triangle is named.

Well-poised within a region tabbed for long-term population and economic growth, major STEM employers are expanding their footprints in Raleigh-Durham with 17,000 new jobs announced in the surrounding market since January 2020.

“We will continue to grow in strategic markets across North America, including Raleigh-Durham which has one of the highest concentrations of life science companies in the U.S.,” said Andy Field, vice-president, investments at Oxford Properties, in the release.

“These transactions represent an incredibly unique opportunity to develop a life science innovation campus of significant scale and capitalize on strong market fundamentals with multiple growth drivers and limited near-term availability in one of the top emerging life science markets in the U.S.”

Oxford Properties and life science

To achieve its goal of building a “meaningfully sized life science business,” Oxford has made 14 life science investments globally in 2021 – including international acquisitions. Including development opportunities, plus its existing pipeline of development and conversion projects, Oxford has secured almost $5 billion of life science opportunities this year.

Among its most recent purchases was the acquisition of a 14-building mixed-use business park in the Los Angeles-area city of Santa Clarita in September. The Santa Clarita Innovation Park is situated on 118.5 acres of land with about 40 acres remaining to be developed.

It contains a mix of life science, innovation and industrial tenants. Industrial is another major area of focus for Oxford, which continues to increase its weighting to these sectors in support of its global capital allocation strategy.

Life sciences, logistics and residential properties are targeted to account for 45 per cent to 60 per cent of Oxford’s global AUM by 2025.

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