JLL Income Property Trust has finalized the $46.6 million purchase of 170 Park Ave., a 147,000-square-foot purpose-built life science facility in Florham Park, N.J., a suburb of New York City. LaSalle Investment Management acted as advisor for the buyer, while CBRE worked on behalf of the seller, identified by CommercialEdge as Lone Star Funds.
Clinical-stage biotechnology company Celularity Inc. has operated its corporate headquarters at the property since the beginning of 2019. The firm committed to a 15-year lease, with an average 2.5 percent annual rent increase.
Built in 1982, the formerly vacant office building has recently undergone a capital improvement plan that transformed the asset into a life science facility. 170 Park Ave. now encompasses advanced lab and manufacturing space for cellular medicine and biomaterials.
A hot location
The seller purchased the property in 2015 for $8.5 million, as part of a 13-asset portfolio trade with Columbia Property Trust. The current deal comes on the heels of Lone Star’s recent disposition of 180 Park Ave., located across the street from Celularity’s headquarters. A joint venture of Vision Properties and The Birch Group picked up the 228,000-square-foot Class A office building last October.
170 Park Ave. is situated on more than 18 acres within The Green at Florham Park, a 270-acre master-planned office park. The plot is in proximity of the Phillipsburg-Newark Expressway (Interstate 78) and Interstate 287, while Manhattan is within 35 miles across the Hudson River.
CBRE’s Institutional Properties group comprising Jeffrey Dunne, Jeremy Neuer, Steve Bardsley, David Gavin, Gene Pride, Travis Langer and Zach McHale, along with CBRE’s Tom Sullivan, made up the team working on behalf of the seller. In early 2020, the brokerage firm arranged the disposition of the neighboring Park Avenue at Morris County, a 1.2 million-square-foot office park. The $311 million transaction marked the state’s largest suburban, multi-tenant office sale since 2008.
New Jersey’s flourishing life sciences sector
According to Allan Swaringen, president & CEO of JLL Income Property Trust, the company’s investment strategy is currently targeting the medical office and life sciences sectors. These asset classes stand out due to their low vacancy rates, good net-absorption and balanced new supply, as well as their larger construction and tenant improvement costs. Altogether, these aspects result in higher tenant retention, when compared to traditional office buildings, Swaringen added.
New Jersey is one of the top-ranking U.S. markets in the life sciences sector, behind Boston, San Francisco and San Diego. A good infrastructure, along with a highly skilled employment pool, affordability and tax incentives make the state a desirable location for investors. Its research and development space and lab footprint span 17 million square feet, comprising more than 3,200 companies, including pharmaceutical giants Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson and Johnson, Celgene, Bayer, Allergan and Teva Pharmaceuticals. According to BioNJ, the New Jersey life science industry has an annual economic impact of roughly $47. 5 billion, while expenditures reach an estimated $30.1 billion.