A deal-making cancer doctor who sold his pharmaceutical company for almost $12 billion is launching a real estate venture to bolster the growth of the biotechnology industry.
Arie Belldegrun’s family office, Bellco Capital, has entered into a joint venture with New York-based real estate developer Tishman Speyer to start Breakthrough Properties, the companies said Tuesday in a statement. The venture said it bought its first property, a 1-acre (0.4 hectare) development site in Boston’s Seaport District, for $80 million, and is exploring other acquisitions in the area as well as in San Francisco.
“This came out of necessity,” Belldegrun said in a telephone interview. “I realized that there’s a significant need for an ecosystem in life sciences where scientists can work and interact.”
Belldegrun, 69, is a UCLA-based cancer researcher and surgeon who’s emerged as a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He sold Kite Pharma, which develops genetically engineered cancer treatments, in 2017 to Gilead Sciences Inc. for $11.9 billion and since then has helped launch Vida Ventures to start more pharma companies.
Breakthrough Properties will provide various business development services to help tenants grow, Belldegrun said. Vida Ventures, his venture capital arm, may also take stakes in the biotech firms. The Seaport District site comes with 250,000 square feet (23,200 square meters) of development rights and is expected to be finished by 2021, according to the statement.
Breakthrough’s chief executive officer is Belldegrun’s son Dan, who worked for Tishman Speyer for several years. Belldegrun’s wife, Rebecka, who is also a doctor, manages Bellco Capital, the family office formed in 2003.
The ventureーa foray into life-sciences development for Tishman Speyerーwill face competition from companies such as Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., which built its business around catering to biotech tenants. About a quarter of Alexandria’s 250 properties are in the Boston area, while the remainder are spread across U.S. cities including San Francisco, New York and San Diego.
Breakthrough has its sights set on some of those cities and ultimately has plans to expand globally, according to Tishman Speyer CEO Rob Speyer.
“The last thing a life-sciences company should be worrying about is real estate, and we can take that concern off the table for them,” Speyer said in an interview. “We’re going to focus on strategic cities that have biotech companies, leading universities and quality housing options.”
Tishman Speyer, whose properties include New York’s Rockefeller Center, last year sold a 13-story building in Boston’s burgeoning Seaport District for $450 million, setting a record for an office transaction in the city.
By Michael McDonald and Lily Katz