MRA Group, of Horsham, Pa., has secured $63 million in additional debt for the ongoing redevelopment of its Chestnut Run Innovation & Science Park (CRISP), a 164-acre, 14-building campus in Wilmington, Del.
Fulton Bank, in conjunction with Nuveen Green Capital through C-PACE, financed $50 million, while the remaining $13 million was provided by WSFS Bank. Given the current debt market, MRA stated that this favorable financing reflects the strengths of both its portfolio and its relationships with financial partners.
This use of C-PACE (commercial property-assessed clean energy) financing reportedly is a first for MRA, but the company stated that given its commitment to developing energy-efficient buildings, this type of funding is likely to be sought again.
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MRA will use the funds for its continued redevelopment efforts at CRISP, including renovated buildings for lab, R&D and advanced manufacturing uses. Additional plans for the campus include amenities such as a hotel, a fitness center, conference space, an outdoor amphitheater and space for food services.
MRA acquired the former DuPont Chestnut Run Laboratory campus in November 2021. Currently, tenants including Solenis, DuPont, Prelude Therapeutics and Celanese occupy nearly 400,000 of the roughly 800,000 square feet on the campus intended for R&D, biopharma, advanced manufacturing and applied sciences users.
This infusion of funding will finance the redevelopment of about a further 120,000 square feet of space, an MRA spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive. He added that the tentative timeframe for the hotel is the first quarter of 2025.
Organic, but rapid growth
Metro Philadelphia is seeing a growing pipeline of biotech companies, including early-stage entities, all contributing to a level of demand that “is being met with 4 million square feet of new purpose-built lab space and conversions that have been announced or are under construction,” according to a recent report from Colliers. Clinical- and pre-clinical-scale biomanufacturing space is in especially short supply.
Among the projects aiming to meet all this demand are a 500,000-square-foot biomanufacturing facility in University City for Spark Therapeutics, a local start-up later purchased by Roche, and the 600,000-square-foot first phase of a 1 million-square-foot-plus pharmaceutical manufacturing campus for WuXi STA in Middletown, Del., Colliers reports.