In the midst of a pandemic, demand remains strong for life science buildings in major metropolitan areas, according to industry experts.

Sebastian Obando, National Real Estate Investor Author

Critical missions and in-built safety procedures make life science assets seem like an attractive investment bet.

In the midst of a pandemic, demand remains strong for life science buildings in major metropolitan areas, according to industry experts.

“Without a doubt, life sciences [sector] has fared the best over the last 60 to 90 days. Not surprisingly, it’s at the center of the crisis, if you think about all the mission-critical research that is happening right now,” says Steve Purpura, vice chairman with real estate services firm CBRE who directs the firm’s life sciences practice group, Northeast division. “As a society we’re much more vulnerable than we thought we were 90 days ago, and I think once we work our way out of this, there’s going to be a lot more capital going into the life sciences sector. All in all, by far, I would say the most positive news of any of the sectors that we deal with is in life science.”

The unemployment rate for life, physical and social science occupations, a broad field that includes chemists and epidemiologist as well as historians, political scientists and urban planners, averaged 4.2 percent in March 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total U.S. unemployment rate in March was at 4.4 percent.

Typically, there are about one half to two thirds fewer people per sq. ft. working in a lab as there are in traditional office space, says Jeff Tompkins, founding partner at SGA, a New York City-based architecture, planning and design firm. Most labs require a significant amount of training before a person is qualified to be in or utilize lab space. That in itself limits the amount of people in a lab.

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