Life Sciences Are Poised for a Bright Future in New York, Says Justin Myers of Lee and Associates

Justin Myers, executive managing director for Lee and Associates NYC, has been inking deals with and learning from New York City’s emerging life sciences sector since 2018. 

Myers, who is co-president of the brokerage’s Biotech, Lab and Life Sciences practice, says that life science leasing has grown in the brokerage’s offices across the country, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Austin and both North and South Carolina. 

Lee and Associates’ Eric Solem, Myers says, has been securing deals for life science tenants for the past 15 years in the brokerage’s Boston office and has worked alongside Myers to secure deals. 

Lee and Associates NYC is closing on significant life science transactions to be announced within the next month, Myers said. 

Myers shared some of his insights on the life sciences sector with the New York Business Journal. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

What makes this such a unique moment for the life sciences sector in New York City? 

New York’s life sciences sector is growing – especially after the covid-19 pandemic – and we’re realizing how important it is for this industry to have a place here. Many landlords have already converted their office and sometimes industrial space into lab space, such as the Alexandria Center for Life Science which was previously an industrial space, Johnson and Johnson’s headquarters at 101 Avenue of the Americas which was previously an office building and Cure at 345 Park Avenue South which is now a co-working lab space. 

What are some of the challenges of providing space to life science tenants? 

Construction costs are incredibly high in New York that leads to some higher rates that might not be affordable for some of these companies. Life science startups, meanwhile, don’t have the capital to build out their own space but many of them need lab-ready space, especially under 10,000 square feet. 

Prices for lab space can range from below $100 per square foot to between $100 to $150 per square foot at Cure’s space at Park Avenue South. 

Life sciences is a broad sector. Who are the most active life science tenants? 

We’re seeing demand from oncology, pediatrics, and cosmetics sectors with many of these companies conducting research for information or searching for breakthroughs in the pharmaceutical space or medical technology. 

What are these companies searching for in their spaces? 

Life science companies are certainly interested in being near one another. This has been the major selling point for the Alexandria Center for Life Science and King Street Capital’s Innolabs in Long Island City which also built out lab space for smaller tenants. 

Often, life science companies are expecting to have spaces that can accommodate their specific mechanical system needs. These spaces, for instance, may need separate HVAC ventilation for different lab spaces so you don’t have a cross contamination of chemicals. These spaces must also have plenty of accessibility and be within their budgets. 

It’s important to note that all of these features are important because this is an industry that spends at least five days per week in their space. 

Are concessions being offered for these companies to settle in New York? 

These companies are being offered economic benefits, such as tax incentives, especially in places like Long Island City and the outer boroughs. Landlords are also offering tenant improvement allowances, free rents and reduced rents in effort to have these companies establish their operations in their buildings. 

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