BioMed Realty to Expand East Bay Life Science Campus

The Emeryville Center of Innovation campus will ultimately encompass 910,000 square feet of lab and office space.
Emeryville Center of Innovation. Image courtesy of BioMed Realty

BioMed Realty has received approval from the City of Emeryville, Calif., to expand the developer’s Emeryville Center of Innovation campus. The expansion’s initial phase totals 265,000 square feet and is scheduled to break ground in 2022. Ultimately, the 12-acre campus will feature 910,000 square feet of new Class A lab and office space.


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Currently, the Emeryville Center of Innovation campus consists of just one 303,000-square-foot research building, which as of 2019 was fully leased to Zymergen Inc., one of Emeryville’s largest employers. The building is undergoing renovations that will transform it into a Class A facility—and Zymergen’s new corporate headquarters—on completion in early 2023, a BioMed spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive.

Upon completion, the expanded Emeryville Center of Innovation campus will encompass the Zymergen building, along with four new buildings and a parking structure.

The campus is within walking distance of Emeryville’s Bay Street shopping area, the Public Market, and a variety of amenities including retail, dining, hospitality and entertainment. The campus includes three acres of green space that’s open to the public.

BioMed acquired the ECI from Novartis in early 2019 for about $135 million. The deal included the adjacent developable parcels that BioMed has now received the go-ahead to build on. Even before Novartis completed its one-year leaseback on the building, BioMed had signed the 12-year lease deal with Zymergen.

Surviving the pandemic

The Bay Area’s life science real estate market remains healthy despite the fallout from the pandemic, with absorption down from 2019, but not to the extent of other sectors, according to a fourth-quarter Bay Area life science space report from Kidder Mathews.

Alameda County led the rest of the Bay Area with the fourth quarter’s highest level of leasing activity, tallying 384,176 square feet of gross absorption and 328,588 square feet of positive net absorption. 

Overall vacancy in the county fell slightly to 3.32 percent, versus 3.36 percent in the prior quarter. Asking rents range from $1.75 NNN to $6.00 NNN, Kidder Mathews reported.