HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – Zeller Realty Group has acquired the new Lonza Viral Therapy Facility, a, 276,770-SF biotechnology building on Kirby Drive in Pearland, south of Houston.
HFF represented the seller, Pinchal & Co. Additionally, HFF worked on behalf of Zeller, a Chicago-based investment and development firm to secure an acquisition loan through Bank of Texas.
The facility is situated on 11 acres at 14905 Kirby Drive in Pearland’s rapidly growing Lower Kirby Urban District. With a number of medical-related firms in place, the Lower Kirby district is a 1,200-acre development that seeks to become a primary life science destination.
Lower Kirby is located near the southwest corner of Beltway 8 and State Highway 288, eight miles south of the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world with more than 100,000 employees.
Completed in the fourth quarter 2017, the Lonza Viral Therapy Facility is fully-leased on a long-term, triple net basis to Lonza America Inc., a subsidiary of Lonza Group AG, a Swiss biotechnology and pharmaceutical company.
Lonza’s Pearland facility is the world’s largest cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility. It houses office space, a process development unit, quality control laboratories, a fully segregated fill/finish suite and independent modular cleanrooms designed to manufacture cell therapy products.
Lonza describes the facility as a “first-of-its-kind, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with capacity to produce treatment for thousands of patients suffering from rare genetic disorders or life-threatening diseases.”
By the end of the year, Lonza expects to have 200 employees at the facility.
“Lonza Houston will serve as a center of excellence for cell-and-gene-therapy process development from concept through pre-clinical, clinical and commercialization, all the way to the patient,” says Lonza’s Andreas Weiler, Business Unit head for Emerging Technologies at Lonza Pharma & Biotech. “This facility has the potential to produce treatment for thousands of patients suffering from rare genetic disorders or life-threatening diseases, under one roof. It will set a new standard in biopharmaceutical manufacturing and stand as one of four centers of excellence in cell and gene therapy in the only global network spanning three continents.”
A grand opening ceremony was held in Pearland on April 10. Founded in 1897 in the Swiss Alps, Lonza today is a global company with more than 100 sites and offices and 14,500 full-time employees.
“Lonza is committed to the evolution and cultivation of a diverse medical and life-science community in the Greater Houston area for many years to come,” says Marc Funk, Lonza Pharma & Biotech Chief Operating Officer. “The site is well positioned to meet the demands of the growing cell-and-gene-therapy field. Combining this leading-edge facility with our unmatched experience and expertise in cell and gene therapy will allow us to provide a key advantage to biopharmaceutical companies and academic researchers and ultimately to the patients they serve.”
Cell therapy is the administration of living cells into a patient’s body with the purpose of growing, replacing or repairing damaged cells for the treatment of a disease. These cells can come from an individual’s own cells (autologous source) or from a donor (allogeneic source).
Gene therapy is defined as a set of techniques that seek to modify, replace, inactivate or introduce genes into a patient’s body with the goal of treating, preventing or even curing disease. These techniques include transferring genes to cells inside a patient’s body (in vivo) or modifying a patient’s cells outside of the body and re-introducing them into a patient’s body (ex vivo). Each technique involves the application of a nucleic acid (specifically, DNA or RNA). Since DNA and RNA are normally not absorbed by cells, special carriers called vectors are required. Vectors can be either viral or non-viral.
In the Zeller purchase of the building, HFF’s investment advisory and debt placement teams included Jeff Hollinden and Cameron Cureton.
Lonza Group Ltd has its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, and is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.