Philadelphia’s Biggest Life Sciences Project Secures $290M Loan

The development features 519,647 square feet of wet lab and dry space


Developers are set to build what will be the largest research and lab facility in Philadelphia thanks to $290 million in construction financing. 

Gattuso Development and Vigilant Holdings secured the funding from Corebridge Financial, with additional equity from The Baupost Group. JLL (JLL) announced the loan and represented the borrowers.

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The state-of-the-art research facility, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, will include 519,647 square feet of wet lab and dry space, as well as 11,908 square feet of street-level retail space. The 11-story development will rise at 3201 Cuthbert Street in the University City submarket in Philadelphia, the city that ranked fifth-largest market in the nation in JLL’s life sciences lab report this year.

“We believe the project validates Philadelphia’s emergence as a global hub for life sciences research, and we are excited to begin construction,” John Gattuso, Gattuso’s president and co-founder, said in a statement.

SmartLabs and Drexel University have preleased 45 percent of the lab space, which will be SmartLab’s seventh location and first commitment to a market outside of San Francisco or Boston. The new space in Philadelphia benefits from its location on Drexel University’s campus in University City, which is the center of Philadelphia’s life sciences market and a hub for gene and cell therapy. The district spans 2.4 square miles and is home to a large concentration of health systems, teaching institutions, life sciences, biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

JLL’s Ryan Ade, Brett Segal and Christopher Peck led the financing effort.

“University City stands within the top tier of national life sciences markets, and similar to other premier markets, it is experiencing a shortage of supply caused by high barriers to development,” Ade and Segal said in a joint statement.

Gregory Cornfield can be reached at