Alexandria Real Estate Equities

John H. Cunningham, Alexandria Real Estate Equities

John H. Cunningham

Developing Urban Innovation Campuses

Editors’ Note

John Cunningham has more than 28 years of experience in real estate operations, leasing, and development. He worked closely with Alexandria during his time at the Cambridge Property Group in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area between 1997 and 2007, acting as a third-party developer on projects in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. During his tenure at Cambridge, he became President of the Development Group in 1995. In addition to operations, leasing, and development, he has extensive experience in acquisitions and dispositions of commercial real estate. He received his Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Maryland.

New York City has been a key growth area for the company. How did this develop and will you describe its strength?

The New York market has long had the potential to become a major life science hub for R&D given the world-class institutions there. In fact, it is number two in NIH grants, number one in patents, number one in hospital beds, and number one in the amount of talent from medical schools and academic institutions.

Joel (Marcus, Chairman, CEO, and Founder) envisioned the thesis for a successful life science cluster in New York early on. When the Bloomberg administration was moving forward with their RFP to develop what would become the Alexandria Center® for Life Science, we were one of dozens of firms they considered.

Our commitment was to go forward with the development on a spec basis, so we broke ground in 2007 and the first building was delivered in 2010.

Our first building was 310,000 square feet and we started development with no tenants. This was a bold move by Alexandria and something that had never been done in New York. That vision has given us first-mover advantage and has made the Alexandria Center for Life Science the epicenter of the growing cluster here. There was such pent-up demand and interest in New York that we were fully leased at that new building in just 10 months.

Our second 420,000-square-foot building, the West Tower, was started with a 15 percent pre-lease to Roche, and was delivered in January of 2014. It is now about 95 percent leased or in negotiation. This demonstrates the overall momentum of New York, which continues to accelerate at an exciting pace.

Do consistencies within each of Alexandria’s locations define the spaces or are they customized to each local market?

We develop “Urban Innovation Campuses.” The amenities within them are critical because we want to create a live-work-play environment, and we want to enhance productivity for the client tenants while producing opportunities for them to attract talent.

What is there about the real estate industry that has kept you so committed to it?

It’s being at Alexandria in New York and creating something unique and first-class. It is also the people I work with, like the CEOs and Chief Scientific Officers at major pharma or biotech companies, along with the great leaders at the New York institutions who are looking to advance their R&D, which is exciting.

For Alexandria, the mission is about helping to foster innovation that will improve the human condition, and establishing world-class environments while also coalescing the top talent to make that happen.•