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SAN FRANCISCO-Life sciences REIT Alexandria Real Estate Equities is softening its focus for its piece of the 303-acre Mission Bay redevelopment. The Pasadena-based public company found on the Internet at www.labspace.com has dropped “life sciences” from the name of its eventual 2.7-million-sf campus there, replaced it with “science and technology” and hired two brokerage firms to source non-lab tenants.

The new strategy give’s Alexandria a much larger tenant pond to fish. The company’s regional market director, senior vice president Steve Richardson tells GlobeSt.com the casting of the wider net is not a response to a slowing of interest by life science relative to pro forma lease-up or development schedules, Richardson says.

“The reasoning is much more along the lines of the reality here that traditional Silicon Valley tenants such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Intuit, Adobe and Salesforce.com are expanding up into San Francisco in order to attract talent,” he says. “We thought it prudent to look at our holdings and decided that a mix of a few of those select tenants would be good for them, good for the life science companies and good for UCSF.”

Alexandria’s Mission Bay campus is thus far fully entitled for six buildings totaling one million sf beyond the one completed late last year, 1700 Owens, a 165,000-sf laboratory/office building (1700 Owens) that is now 80% leased to life sciences companies. Under construction is 1500 Owens, a six-story, 165,000-sf laboratory/office building that is scheduled for delivery in late 2008. Pre-construction work is under way for twin five-story, 105,000-sf buildings. Next to those is a planned 200,000-sf high rise that is awaiting a build-to-suit deal.

Richardson says the decision to market to non-life-science users is specific to Mission Bay and is not reflective of a change of course for the company as a whole or the type of buildings it develops. Buildings at Mission Bay will continue to have the robust mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems capable of supporting heavy lab uses, “so if a technology firm ends up in part of one of these we haven’t compromised our ability to ultimately have life sciences companies in these facilities.”

As another example of the type of tenants that Richardson can see leasing space on its campus would be GE Healthcare and Nikon. Both companies are collaborating with the University of California at San Francisco and the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), which is headquartered at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus. While Alexandria’s business model is in part based on the fact that life sciences tenants tend to stay in their leased spaces longer than traditional office tenants because of the state-of-the-art buildings and the extra investment they make in them, Richardson says the environment being created at Mission Bay may make even non life science tenants want to stick around long term.

“The stickiness for them may not be our buildings but rather the need to be within walking distance of UC San Francisco,” Richardson says. “If you’ve got somebody really engaged in technology and they have the opportunity during lunch to walk over and be part of a neuroscience seminar, that kind of dimension of being amongst people who are really bright can be very appealing.”

As well, Mission Bay could now be home to companies like Amyris Technologies, which is currently focused on two things: the production of the drug artemisinin to fight malaria in developing countries, and the production of renewable biofuels. The company just leased approximately 30% of Wareham Development’s new 245,000-sf EmeryStation East laboratory building, which incorporates anti-vibration technology, co-generation power systems and the latest in security systems.

“It isn’t life science but they still need the robust type of facility that Wareham was building,” Richardson says. “That’s the kind of platform we will be able to provide to people.”

To source those types of tenants, Alexandria has hired two broker teams from two different firms, one from Cornish & Carey’s Silicon Valley office and another from GVA Kidder Mathews San Francisco office. Richardson says GVAKM has focused on Mission Bay, brought Alexandria the Sirna/Merk deal and can articulate the vision of the area very well to prospects while C&C completes a significant share of life science leasing in the entire SF Bay Area and also has a big chunk of the market share in the Silicon Valley tech realm thanks to deep relationships with tech leaders and tech venture cpaitalists.

The overall 303-acre Mission Bay Redevelopment Plan includes a mixture of uses, including about 1.5 million gross sf of retail space; the 43-acre University of California site, which will eventually contain 2.65 million gross sf of instruction, research and support space, and a site for a public school; approximately 5.6 million gross sf of research and development, light manufacturing and office space adjacent to UCSF on the west, south and east; a 500-room hotel between Third and Fourth streets, south of China Basin Channel; about 47 acres of open space and parks and approximately 6,000 residential units.

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