Tuesday, November 01, 2005

BioCreep: 36 is the Magic Number

BioCenter, BioPark, BioCluster, BioCorridor, Genetown, PharmCountry, The Triangle, Beantown, San Francisco, San Diego…Colorado? Yes I say add Colorado to the list, my blog right, I reckon I am enabled to add whatever I want. But then you argue tiers…N.C., S.F., S.D., these are all top tier BioLocales say you, Colorado is a secondary, tertiary or quaternary (to borrow a few terms from my biochem days) tier and should not be uttered in the same breath as these deep rooted nodes of innovation.

Well to attempt to validate my assumption let’s take a look at life science real estate in San Diego and Colorado to seek to establish a relative scale. At the start of 2004 in S.D. approximately 140 properties and nearly 6 million square feet was available to house life science companies. At the same time roughly 1.3 million square feet remained unoccupied or about a 22 percent vacancy rate existed (reported by CoStar Group, Inc., a commercial real estate tracking firm).

Compare these numbers to the roughly 447,000 square feet of space leased by Colorado biotech companies and add to this number the space operated by the 500-lb biotech gorillas Roche and Amgen who too call Colorado home and the number swells to 2.4 million square feet occupied. At the moment supply is having a difficult time meeting demand, and I would argue that the vacancy rate is nowhere near the bloated value of 22% in San Diego. For example GlobeImmune has recently swelled to 40,000 square feet and as a result is creeping up the Boulder Turnpike from its Fitzsimons birthplace to settle in its cozy new home alongside Replidyne. Similarly Dharmacon and Myogen have recently significantly increased their space requirements.

The bioscience center at Fitzsimons is home to an action packed 60,000 square feet with a new 25,000 square foot building on the way. This does not include the anticipated 3.5 million square feet to be added by a soon to be named private developer that may allow for move in dates well within two years. To borrow a line or two from Mr. Dylan:

The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin

Though Colorado is far from reaching critical mass there is no doubt that we here are observing a BioCreep along the I-36 Turnpike and from Colorado Springs to Ft. Collins. The entire Front Range is a buzz with life science activity. I encourage all to take a closer look and see for yourself.


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