Kite’s Belldegrun Launches Biotech-Focused Real Estate Company, Breakthrough Properties

gold scissors cutting red ribbon

Arie Belldegrun, founder and former chair, president and chief executive officer of Kite Pharma, has teamed up with real estate developer Tishman Speyer to launch a biotech-focused real estate company, Breakthrough Properties. Kite was acquired by Gilead Sciences in 2017 for $12 billion.

Belldegrun’s family company, Bellco Capital, entered the joint venture and has bought its first property, a one-acre site in Boston’s Seaport District. The site went for $80 million. Breakthrough is also looking at sites in San Francisco.

“This came out of necessity,” Belledgrun told Bloomberg. “I realized that there’s a significant need for an ecosystem in life sciences where scientists can work and interact.”

In 2018, Belldegrun and David Chang, former executive vice president, Research and Development and chief medical officer, of Kite, co-founded Allogene Therapeutics, based in South San Francisco. It was built out of an asset contribution deal with Pfizer, as well as a $300 million Series A round.

Allogene’s focus is on off-the-shelf CAR-T therapy products. As part of the deal with Pfizer, Allogene received rights to 16 preclinical CAR-T licenses that Pfizer licensed from Cellectis and Servier, and one clinical asset licensed from Servier. In October 2018, Allogene launched its initial public offering (IPO), raising about $288 million.

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Belldegrun has also launched Vida Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on biotech startups.

He indicates that Breakthrough Properties will also offer business development services to its tenants, and Vida Ventures may invest in some of the biotech companies it hosts.

The site in the Seaport District has 250,000 square feet of development rights and is planned to be completed by 2021. Breakthrough’s chief executive officer is Dan Belldegrun (Arie’s son), who has worked for Tishman Speyer for several years. Rebecka Belldegrun, a physician and Arie’s wife, manages Bellco Capital.

One of the big players in the biopharma real estate business is Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Alexandria has 250 properties, about 25% of which are in the Boston area, with the rest in San Francisco, New York and San Diego. These are cities as well as possible international expansion, that Breakthrough is considering.

“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,” Rob Speyer, chief executive officer of Tishman Speyer, told Bloomberg. “We’re going to focus on strategic cities that have biotech companies, leading universities and quality housing options.”

In addition to Breakthrough Properties, Tishman Speyer owns New York’s Rockefeller Center. In 2018, it sold a 13-story building in the Seaport District in Boston for $450 million, a record-breaking office transaction.

The original announcement indicates that Bellco Capital “leverages its founders’ first-hand experience as academic physicians, scientists and life science entrepreneurs to create and support innovative companies with ambitions to change the paradigm of care for patients, as well as growth in real estate, consumer products, media and other sectors.”

Tishman Speyer brings to the table “innovative approaches to architecture and interior design, sustainability, healthy working environments, and leading-edge tenant amenities.”

“Life science innovation is happening at an unprecedented pace as technology and science continue to merge,” stated Dan Belldegrun. “Breakthrough is ideally positioned to support this new paradigm and help innovators around the globe pursue life-changing discoveries. We are thrilled to launch this effort with our first deal in Boston, and quickly expand to other innovation markets around the world.”

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