University of Miami's Life Science & Technology Park nears opening
By Zachary Fagenson
Opening day is only a few months away for the first building in the University of Miami's Life Science & Technology Park.
With the 252,000-square-foot building about 50% leased, Maryland-based developer Wexford Science & Technology has focused on bringing in retail tenants to fill out its first floor in preparation for a Sept. 20 ribbon cutting.
"We've got a cloth napkin restaurant… an executed lease with the UPS store… a nationally known coffee company in negotiations, a community-based dry cleaner that we've got an agreement for [and] a community bank we're talking to," said Joseph Reagan, who's heading the project here for Wexford. "We've got a draft lease out to a nationally known sandwich company and an executed lease with a fitness center I believe we'll have open" at the time of the opening."
Tenants are already moving into the building's innovation suites — pre-built, shared office and lab space for startup companies looking to test a discovery's commercial viability. At the same time, the University of Miami Tissue Bank's 80,000 square feet are being built out.
When the building opens "80,000 square feet will be occupied at that point," Mr. Reagan said. "We'll have a couple of the retail [spaces] under construction and the fitness center should be open."
Wexford has been working on the project, which business and civic leaders hope will be the flashpoint of a new, lucrative industry for Miami-Dade, for more than two years.
Financing for the $100 million project, which could be the first of five building to rise along Interstate 95 in near the Health District, came from a $60 million bond issued by Miami-Dade's Industrial Development Authority, made available through President Obama's stimulus package; more than $8 million in new market tax credits, and about $25 million in Wexford equity.
Once finished, the project could add 1.6 million to 2 million square feet of laboratory and medical office space to the City of Miami. Tenants to date include medical diagnostics company DayaMed; national intellectual property law firm Novak Druce + Quigg; and two business incubators. The latest tenants to sign on include medical device company Emunamedica and the Community Blood Centers of South Florida, who will occupy a total of 10,000 square feet.
Wexford hired Jones Lang LaSalle to help lease the space while Taylor & Mathis was recently brought on to manage the first building.
What comes next for the 8.8-acre site, however, is unclear. The master plan includes four more buildings, each larger by a floor or two than the last. Wexford's specialty is developing multi-building science parks. Other projects in its portfolio include the 1.85 million-square-foot Science Center in Philadelphia and the University of Maryland's BioPark.
Prior to joining Wexford, Mr. Reagan was "assistant vice president of Real Estate and Architecture for the University of Pennsylvania Health System where he oversaw 5 million square feet of owned and leased facilities," according to its website.
"We're always looking for the next anchor tenant, whether it's a hotel, to get building two going," he said. He wouldn't say what the key to getting the next building going is, but Wexford's agreement with the University of Miami specifies it only as the developer of the first building.
In a previous interview, Mr. Reagan said Wexford would look to get a second building going once occupancy of the first one was 55% to 75% so as to keep a steady supply of space on the market.
With increasing interest in the building, that point may be around the corner.
"Two years ago when we're talking about the building, people said "OK,' then 18 months ago when the building starts coming out of the ground they said "Oh, they're really building it," Mr. Reagan said. "Then when you can walk them through a constructed laboratory people can really believe what it'll look like and it bolsters the number of prospects."
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