TEWKSBURY, MA-Acusphere is leasing a 58,500-sf biotech manufacturing facility at 890 East St. The deal represents an expansion of manufacturing operations for the pharmaceutical company which develops new drugs and improved formulations of existing drugs. The firm will keep its headquarters in Watertown.

Lowell Peabody, senior vice president and Ted Shannon, vice president of NAI Hunneman Commercial, represented property owner, JJ Phelan & Sons Co. Inc, and worked closely with MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development authority, which made an effort to insure that the availability of the property reached prospective life sciences companies. Curt Oberg of Spaulding & Slye represented Acusphere.

The facility was formerly owned and operated by drug manufacturer Muro Pharmaceutical Inc. until it was shut down last year by its European parent company, ASTA Medica. Although Muro sold off most of the equipment that remained in the facility, Oberg says that Acusphere was attracted to the location here due largely to the facility’s infrastructure, previous utilization and expansion capacity.

A skeleton crew from Muro is still working in the office portion of the facility through the end of the year. Muro utilized the facility for liquid manufacturing and packaging nasal sprays and cough medicines.

Acusphere will begin tenant improvement construction within the next few months to begin relocating its manufacturing operations. The company signed a five-year, nine-month lease with two five-year renewal options.

Peabody emphasizes that deal is significant in that it demonstrates that growing biotech companies like Acusphere, as they expand and develop their manufacturing operations, are finding suburban rents attractive compared to those in Cambridge. According to Trammell Crow Co.’s most recent statistics, the average asking rent for research and development space in the Route 495/North market ranges from $9 per sf to $12 per sf. The average asking rent for lab space in Cambridge overall is approximately $37 per sf.

Scott Sarazen, a senior vice president of life sciences at MassDevelopment, points out that the agency believed Acusphere, as a growing life science firm, was a good match for the former Muro Pharmaceutical site. He emphasizes that MassDevelopment plans to continue to play matchmaker between life sciences firms and property owners to encourage them to remain in the state. It is, he says, “in line with our overall objective of expanding these critical technologies in Massachusetts.”

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