401 N. Broad St., Philadelphia
Biomeme Inc., a diagnostic startup behind a rapid Covid-19 test, signed a 10-year lease on 49,200 square feet for a new headquarters, lab and production space at 401 N. Broad St. in Center City. The company had been housed in about 20,000 square feet at 1015 Chestnut St. When it went to search for new space, Biomeme identified several goals it wanted to accomplish including finding enough space to accommodate its entire Philadelphia-based workforce in one location, and despite tax, regulatory and other challenges, it wanted to remain in the city. Biomeme also didn’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of capital resources on the headquarters that would otherwise be committed to expand its core business. The company received a $3 million grant from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to help fund the build-out of its new headquarters.
Biomeme was conceived to make the world a better place through the democratization of healthcare and industrial quality diagnostics. Biomeme has created technology that empowers anyone, anywhere (including low-resource settings with minimal space, electricity, and equipment) with the capabilities of a molecular lab in the palm of his or her hands.
Over the last ten years, Biomeme has grown a vertically integrated organization headquartered in Philadelphia, spanning specimen collection, sample prep, assay, and instrumentation R&D, PCR reagent lyophilization, hardware, and consumable manufacturing, as well as molecular diagnostic testing services.
With the low cost, ease-of-use, and unique field portability of the company’s proprietary platform, Biomeme is rapidly advancing initiatives in infectious diseases like COVID-19, as well as emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. The pace of commercialization of Biomeme’s core business units over the last two years substantially outstripped the real estate used by Biomeme to support its operations and growth plan.
As such, and after an 11-month search process that touched several different submarkets, Biomeme executed a lease in March 2021 with Netrality to expand and consolidate its real estate presence in Greater Philadelphia by relocating the company’s headquarters offices and administrative functions, laboratory, research and other highly technical engineering platforms, device and biomanufacturing production, and fulfillment operations to 401 North Broad Street in Center City Philadelphia. On January 10, 2022, Biomeme began its move to, and commissioning of systems and facilities at, 401 North Broad Street.
At the outset of our investigation into new space options, the co-founders // c-team of Biomeme identified several foundational goals of the project. These goals included the following:
- Hosting the entire Philadelphia-based workforce from one location; in other words, there would be a strong bias against programming operations from split facilities–separating, for example, the business unit of the company from the research & development, production and/or fulfillment components of the business.
- Despite tax, regulatory and other hurdles, the project’s location would be in the City of Philadelphia, with superior access to mass transit (preferably regional rail, subway and bus modes) as well as safe commuting paths for the large part of the Biomeme workforce who are bicyclists.
- The headquarters project should not unduly burden capital resources of the company that otherwise would be committed to expand its core business units.
The 401 North Broad Street transaction accomplishes these goals. And, Netrality’s and Biomeme’s long-term commitment on this project has other consequential effects as well. Biomeme’s decision to relocate to North Broad Street transforms the possibilities for use of this 1.3M sf data center building, and connects this emerging corridor in a direct, prominent, unique way with the home-grown entrepreneurial life sciences community. When we began this work with Biomeme in April 2020, the company’s Philadelphia-based workforce totaled less than 50 persons. Biomeme’s 401 North Broad Street space is designed for a workforce of approximately 140; and, as of January 2022, almost all of those desks and offices are filled.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and City of Philadelphia recognized the importance of this vertically-integrated corporate biotech project to our economy. The workforce and other economic impacts of this transaction are so significant the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania awarded the Biomeme relocation to 401 North Broad $3.0M through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). This RACP grant is administered by the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget and the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development.
Size: 49,200 square feet
Term: 10 years
Value: $17.5 million
Landlord: Netrality Data Centers
Lender: WSFS Bank
Architect and interior designer: Strada
Lawyer: Cozen O’Connor for Biomeme; Mayer Brown for Netrality
Broker: Christian Dyer of CBRE Inc. for Netrality; Gary Lozoff of Tactix Real Estate Advisors for Biomeme
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