Biotech & Health

BioBoom: This section of the Washington, D.C. Area is in the Midst of Significant Biotech Construction

MBS Staff

Unexpected and out of left field, the heart of the biotechnology industry in the Washington, D.C. area is on the tail end of a localized building boom. The right conditions have come together to create demand for bio-related space in the nNorth Rockville area. North Rockville is home to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of GlaxoSmithKline's global vaccines R&D centers, University System of Maryland Biotechnology Facilities and a torrent of cutting-edge biotechnology companies. The area—also known as the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center—is adding to its more than 3 million square feet of bio-related space at a rapid pace.

The shortage of lab space has created a space crunch for the area. And the That coupled with a maturing, local biotech industry means demand has far surpassed supply; it was time to build more biotechnology research and office space. Companies and institutions alike have been part of a bio building boom in North Rockville, including demand from universities, biotech businesses and federal government institutions.

Missing from several market research reports,is a 69,000 square foot expansionthat's part of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) headquarters the new building on the Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County Medical Center campus, is intended to be used as lab space.

85,000 square feet of office space is almost complete at 9950 Medical Center Drive. London-based Autolus (NASDAQ: AUTL) is making its first arrival in the U.S. Market and the brand new building will be its United States headquarters. The biopharmaceutical company is developing cutting-edge, next-generation technology using programmed T-cell therapies to treat of cancer.

The Universities at Shady Grove made a significant contribution to the bio activity in the area with a 220,000-square foot state-of-the-art Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education building. The building was dedicated in November of last year with attendance from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Montgomery County Councilmembers. The building alone will double the Universities at Shady Grove enrollment capacity and try to meet some of the demand for skilled personnel from the biotech community. In fact, the building allows support for an innovation and entrepreneurship center to pair students and mentors with local businesses to spur innovation leading to the next great home-grown biotech.

USM Biotechnology and Engineering building exterior, Montgomery County, Maryland.

USM Biotechnology and Engineering building exterior, Montgomery County, Maryland. (Montgomery Business Scene)

Adding to the growth in North Rockville, fast-growing Vigene Biosciences, which was listed on 2018 and 2019 Inc. 5000 roster, recently moved into its reconstructed headquarters at 5 Research Court, Rockville, MD. The expansion of an existing structure created a total of 71,000-square feet. The space with customized for Vigene and with the additional space the company can pursue its mission to make gene therapy streamlined and affordable.

Finally, biofacilty developer Alexandria Real Estate Equities is adding a 175,840 square foot building at 9800 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD to its portfolio, and it's making a visible impact on the south end of Shady Grove Road. Another homegrown biotech, RegenXBio will make the new building its new headquarters; the clincal-stage biotech will relocate from 9600 Blackwell Road. The new space will allow RegionXBio to expand upon its novel NAV® Technology Platform used to create gene therapy treatments.

Even with several new buildings added to market, the good news is that they've been already spoken for before the shovels hit the ground. For example, all buildings under construction for the private sector are fully leased. RegenXBio recently announced it would be expanding its lease for the remaining space in 9800 Medical Center Drive, making them the sole tenant.