Suffolk breaks ground on life sciences project in NYC

Dive Brief:

  • Boston-based Suffolk Construction has begun turning a former industrial building into a high-tech life sciences facility in an effort to help address the space shortage in New York City’s biotech industry, according to a press release shared with Construction Dive.
  • The gut renovation and redevelopment of the 218,000-square-foot, seven-story lab and research center at 43-10 23rd St. in Long Island City, Queens, New York, will feature class A lab space that includes flexible floor plans with minimal support columns. 
  • The New York City metro area now leads the nation in life sciences jobs and funding, according to a New York City Department of City Planning report.

Dive Insight:

Though increased funding continues to pour into the Big Apple, demand for life sciences-related space continues to outpace supply in the city.

Tom Giordano, Suffolk’s general manager of the New York region, echoed that sentiment.

“The development of space to meet this industry’s specific needs has not kept up with demand, putting the metro area at a competitive disadvantage,” Giordano said in the release. 

But that leaves ample opportunity for construction firms like Suffolk and others to take advantage. Australian contractor and developer Lendlease recently identified New York City as a major growth market for life sciences in the United States, along with Boston and Chicago.

New York City struggles with retaining life sciences talent because it lags behind Massachusetts and California in both lab and office space, Suffolk said. Yet, the city has the highest level of life sciences education attainment, with nearly 2.5 million residents holding degrees in science, engineering and engineering-related fields. 

Part of the space shortage stems from the fact that completing a life science project is much more difficult than a traditional office. Special considerations related to building codes, planning stages, structure details, retrofits and infrastructure needs tend to reduce where a life science construction project can occur in the first place. 

Suffolk’s New York operation has experienced significant growth and expansion. For example, the firm currently employs 160 individuals, up from just four in 2015, according to the release.

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