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GAITHERSBURG, MD-The 88,000-sf state-of-the-art laboratory facility at 9 W. Watkins Mill Rd. has found a new owner in a recent $25.6-million transaction. Pharmaceutical giant Novartis sold the two-story building to Alexandria Real Estate Equities, the only publicly held laboratory/office property REIT in the US. Novartis had developed the facility five years ago for one of its subsidiaries, biotechnology firm Genetic Therapy, which shuttered its doors late last year; the building has since been vacant.

The structure at 9 W. Watkins Mill sits in the I-270 Corridor, a 30-mile stretch that is home to a bevy of biotechnology research centers and firms, including the likes of Johns Hopkins University, the National Institutes of Health, Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, Celera, Genomics and Digene. In addition to its prime location, the property offers 39,000 sf of office space and 49,000 sf of cutting-edge lab space that includes nearly 6,000 sf of Vivarium space for animal testing.

The current 100% vacancy level at 9 W. Watkins could be misleading, as there was a great deal of interest in the property from prospective buyers. “We had multiple offers,” Advantis/GVA’s Jim Meisel tells GlobeSt.com. Meisel and colleagues Dek Potts, Cathy Jones, and Kevin McGloon represented Novartis in the transaction, serving as the only brokers on the deal. “Others recognized this was an unusual opportunity. It’s rare that a building of this quality comes on the market; it’s in pristine shape and has all state-of-the-art facilities, including the Vivarium, which was also an attractive asset in addition to the other laboratory space.” Meisel adds that the chances are very good that the new owner will be able to lease up the facility in little time.

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