Oxford Buys San Diego Life Science Campus in Sale-Leaseback

Canadian real estate giant Oxford Properties this week announced the purchase and long-term leaseback of Ionis Pharmaceuticals 18.4-acre life science campus and corporate headquarters.

Located in the established San Diego life science submarket of Carlsbad, the campus encompasses 250K SF of existing life science and office space. As part of the transaction, Ionis will lease the properties for a minimum of 15 years.

The transaction follows on from Oxford’s entrance into the San Diego life science market in February with its $464M acquisition of a 13-building portfolio from San Diego-based BioMed Realty. The portfolio, encompassing 650K SF in Sam Diego’s Sorrento Valley and Sorrento Mesa submarkets, were 98% leased at the time of the acquisition in February.

The deal for the Ionis campus builds on Oxford’s already robust global life sciences portfolio and growing West Coast presence with high quality assets in the Bay Area and in Seattle.

The acquisition grows Oxford’s existing San Diego life science portfolio in San Diego to 900K SF of income-producing properties, which will increase to over 1.2 million square feet upon completion of its development pipeline in the local market.

Founded in 1989, Ionis is a publicly traded biotech company and a leader in discovering and developing RNA-targeted therapeutics. Ionis currently has three marketed medicines and a premier late-stage pipeline highlighted by industry-leading cardiovascular and neurological franchises.

“Our team continues to create sustained yet highly-targeted growth against one of our highest conviction global investment strategies, to build a global life science business of scale,” said Chad Remic, executive VP, North America at Oxford, in a statement.

“Ionis has long maintained a strong financial foundation to support our business objectives. While we have a healthy cash balance, we also have near-term capital needs to scale our organization to deliver on our growth initiatives,” said Elizabeth Hougen, Ionis executive VP.

“This transaction will provide us with significant cash proceeds while allowing us to conduct our day-to-day operations as we normally do. We have worked closely with Oxford to create a bespoke solution that can accommodate our future growth and retain flexibility as our business evolves,” Hougen said.

The Ionis campus features three assets of one and two stories. The buildings are all modern vintage, with the oldest completed in 2011 and the most recent in 2021. They feature chemistry labs, biology labs and R&D support systems as well as modern office space.

The campus is located in Carlsbad, part of the San Diego North County life science cluster and home to leading firms such as Novartis, Thermo Fisher and Genentech.