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Longfellow Real Estate Partners Expanding San Diego Presence

Longfellow Real Estate Partners has leased 7,000 square feet of its Sorrento Valley life science center to Explora Biolabs for vivarium labs, capping what has been a year of expansion in San Diego for the Boston-based company.

More acquisitions and further expansion of the company’s San Diego footprint will come in 2021, said Nick Frasco, managing director of Longfellow Real Estate Partners.

“Longfellow has exciting growth plans in San Diego looking forward into 2021. We’re currently working on a development pipeline of more than 700,000 square feet,” Frasco said, although he declined to say where in San Diego that the company is looking.

Longfellow Real Estate Partners in October acquired The Foundry, a 280,365 square-foot two-building campus in Sorrento Mesa, and in September bought the three-building Creekside office campus in Sorrento Valley.

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In June, the company acquired the three-building Sorrento Tech campus in Sorrento Mesa from BLT Enterprises.

“We continue to make great progress in our ongoing lab conversions and lease-up throughout the portfolio,” Frasco said. “We’ve made some big expansions into the Sorrento Mesa market with multiple acquisitions there this year.”

Since entering the San Diego market in November 2018, Longfellow Real Estate Partners has acquired more than 960,000 square feet of office space that it’s converting for life science companies and has become one of the most active players in San Diego’s growing life science market.

“We anticipate our acquisition effort to continue through 2021 and thereafter. We’re seeing life science tenant demand stronger that pre-pandemic levels. We see that continuing into the foreseeable future,” Frasco said. “2020 has been a very active year for us nationally and San Diego is no exception. We roughly doubled our portfolio in the region to just under one million square feet.”

Explora

As part of that, Explora Biolabs signed a long-term lease for 7,000 square feet of space in Longfellow’s 450,000 square-foot SOVA Science District in Sorrento Valley, where Longfellow recently completed an amenity center that includes a brewery, fitness center and community outdoor space.

Financial details of Explora’s lease were not disclosed.

“Explora Biolabs perfectly complements the needs of our existing tenants and we will provide valuable, specialized services to companies across our portfolio,” Frasco said. “Having a CRO (commercial research organization) like Explora makes a lot of sense not only for early stage biotech but for companies of all stages. We see this as a big advantage to our leasing efforts and to our tenants, especially when you look at the fact that this operation will be within a maximum five-minute drive of our entire portfolio.”

Explora will be moving into space that been previously used as a vivarium but is undergoing about $1 million in renovations.

When completed, Explora’s SOVA Science District property will include 14 separate labs that will be available to life science companies in the district and elsewhere in San Diego.

“We will be doing a complete overhaul of the space to create a new best-in-class vivarium space,” Frasco said.

An Alternative

Founded in 2004 with headquarters in Sorrento Valley, Explora has six vivarium locations in San Diego County, according to CEO Sandy Paige.

“There’s a lot of demand because roughly half of the life science companies need to do animal work and most of them would prefer to do it themselves,” Paige said.

Explora gives life science companies an alternative to building their own vivarium space at an estimated cost that Paige said was about $500 per square foot or contracting with third parties to do testing.

“They avoid an enormous headache of running their own vivarium and can step right into something that’s pretty available in two weeks,” Paige said.

As it does at its other locations, Explora will provide lab space for animal and plant research at Longfellow’s SOV Science District for life science companies.

“We also provide the technicians to perform many of the services that need to take place,” Paige said. 

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