LaSalle Enters Life Sciences Market

The investment management firm has acquired an interest in Illumina's 793,000-square-foot world headquarters campus in San Diego.
Illumina Headquarters. Image courtesy of LaSalle Investment Management

LaSalle Investment Management has recently made its debut into the life sciences real estate sector with the acquisition of an ownership interest in a 793,000-square-foot property in San Diego.

The Class A asset is leased in its entirety to DNA sequencing and array-based technologies firm Illumina. LaSalle acquired the stake in Illumina’s world headquarters and life sciences campus from Alexandria Real Estate Equities on behalf of LaSalle Property Fund, its U.S. core open-end real estate investment vehicle.

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LaSalle’s entrée into the life sciences property sector comes more than 15 years after the real estate investment manager first established itself as one of the most visible private equity investors in the highly coveted medical office sector.

“We’ve been studying the life science property sector for quite some time and have been waiting for the right opportunity to enter the space,” Steve Bolen, managing director with LaSalle Investment Management, told Commercial Property Executive.

“The decision to make this investment was a function of the quality of the asset, the credit quality and market dominance of the long-term tenant and the opportunity to partner with a best-in-class owner/operator that is exclusively focused on the life science sector.” 

Steve Bolen, Managing Director, LaSalle Investment Management. Image courtesy of LaSalle Investment Management

A state-of-the-art complex, the Illumina headquarters consists of six cutting-edge office, lab and accessory buildings at 5200 Illumina Way (formerly 5200 Research Place) in San Diego’s high-demand University Town Center submarket.

The biotechnology company has called the location home since late 2010, when it inked a deal for what was then a 347,000-square-foot property with Alexandria, which had just acquired the campus for $128 million.

Illumina’s space needs increased consistently over the years and Alexandria accommodated, completing the sixth structure in 2016. The 44-acre campus allows for additional development and, per terms of the sales agreement, LaSalle will join co-owners in further expanding the property.

Starting at the top

LaSalle selected a leading life sciences market for its entrée into the sector. As Cushman & Wakefield notes in a second quarter 2019 report, San Diego County is the third-largest biotech hub in the U.S., trailing only Cambridge, Mass., and the San Francisco Bay Area. The direct vacancy rate in San Diego County is just 5.2 percent, and it’s an even lower 4.6 percent in the UTC submarket, which also boasts the highest rents in the area. Alexandria is the largest life sciences landlord in San Diego, with roughly 5 million square feet of space.