Campanelli, TriGate Ink Moderna to 200,000 SF Lease
NORWOOD—Barely four months after unveiling plans to reinvent their Upland Woods office building as a multi-tenanted property, Campanelli and TriGate Capital have abandoned that campaign—but that is a good thing for the asset at 100 Tech Dr. upon signing fast-growing life sciences firm Moderna Therapeutics to take all 200,000 sf. Newmark is exclusive leasing agent for the asset now branded UPLAND, while the tenant was advised by JLL.
In a “market-moving” deal among the largest in Route 128 South this year, Moderna has committed to a 15-year lease plus multiple renewal options, officials for the landlord and tenant are confirming of a pact ending Moderna’s previously announced search to establish a state-of-the-art clinical manufacturing operation in suburban Boston. The firm’s CEO is Stephane Bancel, a founding member of the company organized in March 2011.
“Moderna looked at a number of potential sites before choosing UPLAND for its clinical manufacturing location,” Campanelli principal Stephen Murphy says in a statement provided to therealreporter.com regarding the agreement which he explains was aided by the town of Norwood designating the sprawling campus as an Economic Opportunity Area.
Moderna will begin build out of its Good Manufacturing Practices plant next month and intends to have it on line by early 2018. Senior VP of Manufacturing and Operations Steve Harbin says in a prepared statement that UPLAND “is quite an ambitious project and will result in a truly unique facility. We are designing the Norwood site to accommodate a broad range of GMP manufacturing needs that reflect the diversity of our pipeline.” Harbin further observes that the plant “will be among the most integrated end-to-end process facilities I have built and seen in my 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry.”
JLL had been engaged to find a suitable venue for the requirement on a search conducted by Managing Directors Peter Bekarian and Tom Kent and Executive VP Don Domoretsky. They connected with Newmark Executive Managing Director Michael Frisoli, Senior Managing Director Taryn Wilson and Managing Director Matthew Morgan while in the midst of pitching UPLAND as a rare opportunity to secure Route 128 South office space with at least 50,000 sf of availability. That endeavor was first unveiled by therealreporter.com in May after Campanelli and TriGate bought out the single-tenant occupant at 100 Tech Dr. and recast it as a multi-tenanted opportunity. Campanelli Leasing Manager Danielle Simbliaris has been handling project duties in-house for the ownership.
Companies fleeing surging rents in Boston’s urban core and prime Route 128 Central towns such as Newton, Waltham and Wellesley were targets of the original strategy until the Moderna entry eliminated UPLAND as a choice for that constituency. Frisoli declares the result “a major, market-moving lease transaction for the Route 128 South market,” praising Campanelli and TriGate on their wisdom launching the in-house overhaul of 100 Tech Dr. this spring on a speculative basis, a strategy he credits for winning over the time-sensitive tenant when Moderna came knocking. It was, Frisoli offers, the same approach his clients used buying another Route 128 South project in June 2013, the pair of NorthQuincy office buildings recast as Heritage Landing. “Our team signed nearly 350,000 square feet at Heritage Landing over the past three years, and it’s great to see that success continue at UPLAND,” says Frisoli.
In the pitch to tenants, Newmark had pointed to UPLAND’s location where Routes One and 128 converge, a venue that is also “at the epicenter of the region’s leading amenities,” including new mixed-use lifestyle centers at Legacy Place in Dedham and University Station in Westwood. Wegman’s and Whole Foods provide high-end grocery options, and the campus is close to MBTA commuter rail and Amtrak service connecting to Boston and New York City. In the “live” category of LWP, Upland Woods itself has a newly constructed luxury apartment community with 262 units developed by Campanelli and Thorndike.
Interestingly, Campanelli and TriGate do have more capacity for office construction at the former Polaroid campus it acquired for $17.3 million in October 2003, with estimates of another 100,000 sf in the wings, a level that could provide the safety valve vanquished UPLAND contestants might be able to turn towards. Campanelli and Newmark did not discuss that aspect in unveiling the Moderna lease, but market watchers indicate Lot 300 could accommodate such a footprint and is already being promoted by the same brokerage team.
Founded in 2011 by Flagship VentureLabs, Moderna is a clinical stage biotech company pioneering mRNA Therapeutics across an array of disease areas including cariovascular, immuno-oncology, infectious, rare, and most recently, pulmonary afflictions. Moderna has two Phase 1 human studies undeway for vaccines, one in Europe and the other domestically. The company has forged collaborations with such life sciences and pharmaceutical giants as Alexion, AstraZeneca, Merck and Vertex, partnerships advancing several mRNA drug candidates toward the clinic along with additional human clinical studies commencing in the coming months.
UPLAND will support rapid progression of the company’s advancing mRNA pipeline from development candidate nomination to human proof-of-concept. The company will carry out all manufacturing activities, from raw material production to active pharmaceutical ingredients formulation, filling and finish.