Co-founder discusses the state of the market, current projects and future plans
BOSTON – Perhaps not surprisingly, given their ready access to capital, the four largest owners of life sciences real estate (LSRE) are publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), namely Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. (NYSE:ARE), the BioMed Realty unit of Blackstone Inc. (NYSE: BX), Healthpeak Properties Inc. (NYSE: PEAK) and Ventas Inc. (NYSE: VTR).
But you might be surprised to learn that the firth largest LSRE firm is a private company: Longfellow Real Estate Partners. Founded in 2009, the Boston-based development and investment firm boasts a portfolio of about 16 million square feet, with projects in major life sciences clusters in the United States and the United Kingdom.
BREI recently reached out to Co-Founder and CEO Adam Sichol to learn more about Longfellow, its current and its plans for the future. Here’s a transcript of our exclusive interview.
BREI: Thanks for chatting with us. Would you like to start by giving us some background about Longfellow and your role with the firm?
Sichol: Thank you so much for having us. My name is Adam Sichol and I am co-founder and CEO of Longfellow Real Estate Partners. My business partner, Jamie Peschel, and I founded Longfellow together 14 years ago in Boston where our headquarters are located today. Since then, we’ve grown into the largest privately held investor and developer of life science buildings with close to 200 employees and 16 million square feet in bio-innovation clusters across the United States and United Kingdom.
Longfellow is a vertically integrated company that partners with some of the most visionary leaders across the life science ecosystem, from universities and large companies all the way to small and midsize startups. We provide our tenant partners the highly functional and flexible lab space to support their research and life-changing work.
BREI: Thanks for the background. What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for the company today – and, for that matter, for the life sciences real estate sector as a whole?
Sichol: Life science continues to be an incredibly important sector and industry for investment, government funding, and provides a field of constant discovery and growth. There are roughly 10,000 rare diseases known to man and only 10 percent of those have an FDA-approved therapy for treatment. The life science community requires highly functional and specialized lab space to continue to innovate, and the Longfellow team has a long track record of both developing and operating that type of lab space to ensure that our occupiers can continue their life saving work.
BREI: What sets Longfellow apart from the other top players in the life sciences real estate space?
Sichol: Longfellow has always put people first. We build first class and highly amentized campuses that enable us to prioritize the people within our buildings.
For instance, Longfellow has pioneered a hospitality-level approach to the tenant experience at our projects with an amenity program we call Elevate. Each campus throughout our portfolio has a uniquely curated set of on-site amenities, including programmed events and classes. We are able to make long-term connections between our tenant partners and the communities within which they work by integrating local businesses like coffee shops, restaurants, breweries and more into our spaces… it really is all about creating unexpected connections, serendipitous meetings and unique opportunities for growth.
Doubling down on the people first approach, we’ve been intentional about showcasing our tenant partners and working with them to facilitate their research and growth. The world in life science moves fast and requires a collaborative partner for success. Longfellow is proud work with tenant partners on their specific requirements and provide the space that supports every company’s best asset, their people.
BREI: Can you tell us a bit about some of your current projects?
Sichol: One of our most exciting projects kicked off in February in the San Francisco Bay Area when we held the groundbreaking for Avia Labs in Millbrae. This development is in one of the most ideal transit-oriented locations, just steps away from the Millbrae Transit Center, the busiest transit hub on the West Coast that includes both Caltrain and BART, and just minutes from San Francisco International Airport. As our Longfellow team continues to put sustainability first, Avia Labs will be the first all-electric life science campus in California, emphasizing energy efficiency and quality of life for future tenant partners and neighbors alike.
In addition to exciting ground-up developments like Avia Labs, Longfellow is also currently converting several innovative projects across the country, including Hatch Labs in New York City. Located at 43-10 23rd Street in Long Island City, this seven-story building was Longfellow’s first acquisition in NYC and will offer rooftop views of the city, along with more than 214,000 square feet of state-of-the-art lab space for life science companies. New York City has all of the key ingredients for major growth as a life science hub, and we are excited to start bringing this reimagined space to market later in 2023.
Longfellow also recently expanded to the United Kingdom, opening an office in London and closing on our first acquisition of Capital Park in Cambridge. The cross-collaboration between the growing, local U.K. team and our U.S.-based operations is energizing as both teams are actively learning from each other. As our footprint takes shape at the innovation-focused development of Capital Park we are also assessing new opportunities across the Golden Triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge.
BREI: What are your goals for Longfellow for the rest of 2023? For the longer term?
Sichol: Longfellow’s 2023 is a year of deliverables. We’ve grown our projects and team substantially in 2021 and 2022 and are now planning and bringing to market several projects across the U.S. and in the U.K. As we see more groundbreakings and development expansions, we are excited to bring new tenant partners onto Longfellow campuses and support their life-changing work as their preferred and strategic real estate partners.
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