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Developer lands first tenant at Devens biomanufacturing campus

May 3, 2022

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Azzur Group has agreed to lease the first building to go up at Bostonbased King Street Properties’ 45-acre campus in Devens, where the developer has placed a big bet on biomanufacturing in Massachusetts.

Pennsylvania-based Azzur is taking all 100,000 square feet at 45 Jackson Road. It plans to open one of its Cleanrooms on Demand facilities there, which biotechs and other life sciences companies can rent out to manufacture their products.

While the development of research labs is exploding across Greater Boston, the local real estate market for the manufacturing of approved medical products is still considered in its infancy. Right now, the region needs 2 to 3 million square feet for biomanufacturing, according to a recent Newmarket report. By comparison, there is 26.9 million square feet of life sciences space in the Boston market, the report said.

But as more of the region’s many up-and-coming biotechs bring their products to market, they will need places to produce them in bulk. King Street broke ground on the Devens campus in late 2020 with an eye on meeting that demand. Once complete, the campus will include five buildings that provide over 700,000 square feet of space.

The Azzur lease validates the concept, “which from a real estate perspective was very bold: to invest heavily in a brand-new type of real estate for which there’s no playbook,” King Street principal Steve Lynch said.

“We had to devise a building design to meet the very particular and evolving needs of drugmakers,” he continued, “and we decided to construct buildings on a speculative basis, and at a very large scale, in a location well away from Kendall Square.”

Unlike the research work that can be done in high-rise research labs, biomanufacturing often requires large, low-slung buildings — in other words, the sort of space that is at a premium in Greater Boston but that can be found more easily and cheaply in other parts of the country. Lynch maintained that as advances in science make medical treatments more complex, it will be important for companies to be close to production sites.

“When they go from an FDA-approved drug, to a drug made at scale, the team that invented the medicine needs to stay involved with it a lot longer,” he said. “Their first look is going to be Massachusetts before they look elsewhere.”

According to the Newmarket report, developers collectively plan to open around 5 million square feet of “good manufacturing practice” space, as the industry calls it, in the Boston market in the coming years.

King Street is drawing significant tenant interest for a second, larger building on Jackson Road now under construction, according to Lynch. While the building can be subdivided, many of those are the market are seeking entire buildings, King Street managing director Tyson Reynoso said.

The core and shell on that building is expected to be complete by this fall, with a third building soon to follow by year’s end, according to Reynoso. The aim is to start construction on the remainder of the buildings by the end of 2022, he said.

Azzur has similar Cleanrooms on Demand facilities in Burlington and Waltham, according to its website. It also has lab and consulting locations in Framingham, Waltham and Worcester.

From Greg Ryan at Boston Business Journal:

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