Hines Plans 52-Acre Life Sciences Hub in Houston

The developer has teamed up with 2ML Real Estate Interests to build the mixed-use project adjacent to the Texas Medical Center.
Levit Green. Rendering courtesy of Hines

Hines has become the latest real estate heavyweight to venture into the life sciences market, unveiling a new partnership with 2ML Real Estate Interests to bring a sprawling biotech and mixed-use hub to south-central Houston. Dubbed Levit Green, the project will span more than 52 acres adjacent to the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest cluster of medical facilities and businesses.

The master-plan, which is still being worked out, will include research, office, residential, retail and dining uses, along with outdoor amenities and green space. A Hines representative described the vision to Commercial Property Executive as “life science-centric with a strong mixed-use component.”

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Houston-based Hines, which has around $133 billion of assets under management worldwide, will serve as the development partner, while 2ML will supply land for the project. The site is located inside the city’s Interstate 610 Loop, near the northwest intersection of Holcombe and Texas 288.

Situated less than 3 miles from Houston’s downtown business district, the industrial land previously housed Houston grocery wholesaler The Grocers Supply Co., which was founded by the Levit family nearly a century ago. The family kept the site after selling the wholesale business in 2014. 2ML, the Levit family’s commercial real estate firm, currently has a portfolio of more than 5.2 million square feet of warehouses, shopping centers and other properties.

Biotech magnet

The development duo is hoping that Levit Green’s large size, connectivity and variety of uses will make it a coveted addition to Houston’s burgeoning biotech scene. The future project will sit near TMC3, a 30-acre medical research campus at the Texas Medical Center complex that is slated to deliver more 1.5 million square feet of space. A new design for TMC3, the result of a public-private partnership involving five institutions, was released in mid-2019.

The Houston region is home to more than 18,000 biotech specialists and 25,700 medical researchers, according to the Greater Houston Partnership, and the city’s health-care and life sciences industries as a whole employ roughly one-third of a million workers, more than the energy sector. CBRE ranked Houston second among emerging life sciences clusters in a white paper last year, behind only Seattle, on the basis of such factors as life sciences employment growth and National Institutes of Health funding.

Betting on life sciences

Through the new partnership with 2ML, Hines joins a growing list of developers that are making significant moves into the life sciences domain. Boston Properties teamed up with Alexandria Real Estate Equities in January to develop a life science campus totaling 1.7 million square feet in South San Francisco.

Last August, developer Thor Equities launched its Thor Sciences division to invest in biotech properties, after Tishman Speyer partnered with Bellco Capital to set up a life sciences platform called Breakthrough Properties in July.