$100M development in University City lines up another tenant

The Barer Institute, a collaborative cancer drug development initiative started by Rafael Holdings, Inc., intends to lease space at the planned 3.0 University Place development in University City.

The institute signed a non-binding letter of intent to occupy 2,500 square feet on the fifth floor of the building that will feature 10 other suites totaling 2,500 square feet each and dedicated to startup companies. The developer refers to these spaces as “Growth Pods.”

The Barer Institute is a subsidiary of Rafael Holdings (NYSE: RFL) of Newark, N.J. The company owns commercial real estate properties in North Jersey and Israel and also owns interests in two clinical-stage pharmaceutical companies focused on the development and commercialization of oncology drugs.

The pending lease helps fill some of the space at the proposed $100 million, 250,000-square-foot building that is being developed at 41st and Market streets by University Place Associates, a Philadelphia real estate company that has built two other buildings in the vicinity of 30th and Market streets and has plans to build a bigger campus there. In April, the Wistar Institute, a nonprofit research organization, entered into a long-term lease on 8,000 square feet for up to 10 years. Wistar has an option to take additional space in the future.

Other tenants that have committed to the building include Ben Franklin Technology Partners and Fulton Bank. In all, 80,000 square feet is leased so far.

Barer taking space in the building is a testament to leveraging Wistar’s presence as an “anchor-collaborator and strategic tenant,” said Anthony Maher, president of UPA. “We think it’s a powerful narrative and we think there will be more,” he said.

UPA is marketing the remaining space to tenants and there has been interest, Maher said. The second floor is the biggest at 39,000 square feet, and the company is dedicating that to cell-gene companies who want to manufacture in University City.

UPA expects to have its permit in June and to break ground on the project soon afterward, Maher said. It is finalizing financing now between two groups, he said.

“There is a lot of dry powder on the sidelines interested in our project,” Maher said. “They are now calling the life science-lab market the hottest and most preferred asset class that will lead coming out of Covid.”

*Article courtesy of Philadelphia Business Journal

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