Mix of New Deals and Existing Tenant Growth Drives Leasing Activity at New Jersey Center of Excellence
Premier Life Sciences R&D Campus in Bridgewater, N.J. is 80-Percent Leased Following Deals with Avantor Performance Materials, Vertice Pharma and Matinas BioPharma
Following two new lease signings and a significant amount of recent organic growth, the New Jersey Center of Excellence (NJCOE) is 80-percent leased. The partnership of Advance Realty and CrossHarbor Capital Partners, LLC announced today that Avantor Performance Materials and Vertice Pharma have inked new leases at NJCOE, while Matinas Biopharma became the latest tenant to expand its space at the Bridgewater, New Jersey, campus.
The deals reflect the rapid leasing pace that’s been a hallmark of NJCOE since Advance and CrossHarbor purchased the property in 2013, when global pharmaceutical company Sanofi relocated its research and development arm to the Boston area. Following the acquisition of NJCOE, which comprises a state-of-the-art laboratory and office environment in the heart of an internationally recognized life sciences corridor, the partnership set out to create a holistic mixed-use community designed to attract the world’s brightest minds and companies.
Advance’s master plan for NJCOE calls for 400 luxury residences as well as numerous amenities of urban life, including restaurants, a grocer, entertainment, shops and outdoor recreation — all amidst the serene backdrop and rolling hills of Central New Jersey’s Somerset County. Construction on the town center portion of the project is set to begin later this year.
“Since acquiring the Center of Excellence less than four years ago, we’ve worked tirelessly to transform it into a premier workplace destination that attracts the brightest stars of the life sciences and biopharmaceutical industries while providing early-stage companies the space and infrastructure they need to grow,” stated Peter Cocoziello, founder and CEO of Advance Realty. “As we draw nearer to the start of construction on the residential and retail components of what will be a one-of-a-kind town center, it’s exciting to see our belief in the project validated by the incredible amount of leasing activity.”
Avantor, which supplies ultra-high-purity performance materials and solutions for the life sciences and advanced technology markets, will occupy 26,769 square feet in NJCOE’s “crown jewel” building, JR1. Building JR1 can accommodate tenants seeking 20,000 to 100,000 square feet.
"At our new innovation center in Bridgewater, we will be working with our customers to drive collaborative development and product commercialization," stated Ashish Kulkarni, Avantor’s executive vice president and chief technology officer. "We're excited to take occupancy of our new state-of-the-art space, and to continue accelerating innovation for our global life sciences and advanced technologies customers."
Vertice, which manufactures, markets and distributes pharmaceutical products, will occupy 4,491 square feet on the first floor of building L.
“At Vertice, we’re committed to making high-quality pharmaceuticals more affordable for patients, and to achieve that goal, it’s imperative our researchers have access to world-class facilities,” stated Indranil Nandi, vice president of R&D for Vertice. “Our space at the Center of Excellence will play an important role in ensuring we remain at the forefront of a competitive and constantly-changing industry.”
Matinas, a publicly traded company that develops anti-infectives to combat drug-resistant infections known as “superbugs”, signed a 14,336-square-foot lease, becoming the latest tenant to expand its space at NJCOE as a result of the success it has experienced at the campus. The company, which has been a tenant at NJCOE since 2015, will consolidate multiple labs in a location that’s close to its Bedminster, N.J., headquarters.
“Our time at the Center of Excellence has been extremely valuable as we continue to expand and further our mission to fight drug-resistant infections,” Matinas Co-Founder and CEO Roelof Rongen said. “As we sought more space to meet our demanding technical needs and to create an environment where our employees can continue to thrive and collaborate, it proved to be the perfect fit.”
Since unveiling the master plan for NJCOE, Advance and CrossHarbor have attracted some of the world’s leading life sciences companies to the property, including global nutrition therapy innovator Nestlé Health Science, which signed a lease in 2015 for 180,000 square feet of research and development space. With the additions of Nestlé and biopharma start-up Nevakar, which recently leased 26,497 square feet, NJCOE now boasts a prestigious roster of tenants that also includes Ashland, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Insmed Inc., 3D Biotek, Union MedTech, Clinical Genomics/Enterix, GSG Scientific, and Solaris Pharma. In January, Advance announced that Clinical Genomics, a biotechnology company that has been a NJCOE tenant since 2015, expanded into a 16,201-square-foot space.
The property offers a number of features designed to suit life science companies’ evolving needs, including power feeds from two substations, a cogeneration system in the central utility plant, generator back-up for the central plant and cooling towers as well as building-level generator back-up. It also features amenities for employees such as a full-service cafeteria, common board room and 120-seat auditorium.
Key to Advance’s vision for NJCOE is the campus’s geographic location. In the middle of the Boston-to-D.C. “wealth corridor,” Bridgewater Township boasts the highest concentration of life sciences companies in New Jersey. NJCOE is also adjacent to Interstate 287, which connects New York City, Westchester County and Northern New Jersey, as well as State Routes 202/206, 22 and 28. Interstate 78, which connects Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and New York City, is three miles from the campus.
Avantor was represented in lease negotiations by The Garibaldi Group Executive Managing Director Jerry Moore. Vertice was represented by John M. Cahill II, Keith Keppler and Howard Cross of Cresa New York. Matinas was represented by Savills Studley Managing Director Jack Feeney.
In each transaction, Advance was represented by Director of Asset Management Barry Quiner and the JLL team of Daniel Loughlin, Robert Ryan, Craig Eisenhardt and Scott Stange.
About Advance Realty
Advance Realty is a privately owned real estate development, investment and management company headquartered in Bridgewater, N.J. Since its inception in 1979, Advance Realty has acquired or developed more than 10 million square feet of commercial, residential, R&D, industrial and mixed-use projects. Today, the company owns, manages and invests in a diversified portfolio of office, retail, industrial, residential and mixed-use assets in key urban and suburban markets along the Northeast Corridor. The company actively pursues real estate investments that provide opportunity to enhance value through development, repositioning and redevelopment. Advance’s strong capital base, fully integrated platform, outstanding talent and flexibility as a privately held organization position the company for continued growth. For more information, visit www.advancere.com.
About CrossHarbor Capital Partners LLC
CrossHarbor Capital Partners LLC is a Boston-based alternative investment management firm that invests in value-add and opportunistic commercial real estate transactions. The firm seeks short and medium duration debt and equity investments that offer a compelling case for generating high absolute returns. CrossHarbor was founded in 1993 and has invested in more than $13 billion of commercial real estate on behalf of a diversified and highly regarded group of endowments, foundations, public and corporate pension plans, family offices and sovereign entities.