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Gilead Sciences’ Land Buy Among Largest in San Diego Area Amid Escalating Biotech Demand

Oceanside Purchase Tops $130 Million as Company Looks To Expand North County Operations

Gilead Sciences acquired a nearly 28-acre land site in Oceanside, California, for a planned expansion of its local biotech operations. (CoStar)

By Lou Hirsh CoStar News March 17, 2022 | 3:00 P.M.

Global biotech firm Gilead Sciences acquired a parcel in Oceanside, California, for a planned expansion in one of that city’s biggest land deals of the past decade, as rapid real estate growth in San Diego’s high-flying life science industry migrates northward.

Public deed filings indicate Foster City, California-based Gilead acquired a site spanning nearly 28 acres at 4100 Ocean Ranch Blvd. for approximately $132.5 million, or $4.74 million per acre. The sellers were developer Lincoln Property Co. of Dallas and Cerberus Real Estate Capital Management of New York.

Gilead officials said the company would use the land to expand its nearby facility at 4010 Ocean Ranch Blvd., which supports clinical manufacturing and process development for Gilead and its Kite Pharma subsidiary.

“We value the talent and infrastructure available in Southern California and purchased the land to give us the ability to bring more manufacturing operations to the area,” said Joydeep Ganguly, a senior vice president at Gilead, in a statement.

Gilead representatives did not immediately respond to requests from CoStar New to comment further on its expansion plans for Oceansid

e, which is about 40 miles north of San Diego and the region’s third-largest city. Joshua Ohl, director of market analytics for CoStar Group in San Diego, said the deal is among the largest for land parcels, or even other commercial investments, seen in Oceanside during the past 10 years. Gilead’s planned expansion marks a continued northward move to expand life sciences facilities in the San Diego region, the nation’s third largest for biotech real estate after the Boston and San Francisco areas.

“Biotech firms have increasingly pivoted to North County for their manufacturing needs,” Ohl said. “Most of those firms are clustered more in Carlsbad than in Oceanside at this point, but Census data does show that this area of North County has a large percentage of households with a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] degree, which provides a built-in labor force for these companies.”

Fueled by a record $4.9 billion in venture funding, the San Diego region in 2021 hit an all-time high of more than 4 million square feet in biotech-related leasing as rents rose 34% from the prior year, according to brokerage JLL. So far in 2022, major local leasings have included Neurocrine Biosciences’ taking more than 630,000 square feet in the Carmel Valley neighborhood and Bristol Myers Squibb taking 427,000 square feet in University Town Center.

While most life science growth has been concentrated in San Diego’s Torrey Pines, UTC and Sorrento Mesa neighborhoods, several firms have picked North County for their local homes. Along with Gilead, companies established in Oceanside and Carlsbad include Fisher Scientific, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Quidel, Copan Diagnostics, Millipore Sigma and Genmark Diagnostics.

The same Oceanside site acquired by Gilead was targeted last year by Amazon for a planned 142,000-square-foot distribution facility, but that project ultimately did not go forward after permits were denied by Oceanside City Council, citing concerns from neighbors about traffic and pollution.

Ohl noted that the size and other details of Gilead’s plans are not known, though based on its current Oceanside operations, new facilities would likely not be as truck-intensive or spur concerns similar to those raised by the Amazon project.

Gilead and its subsidiaries develop drugs used in treatments including those for cancer, hepatitis and HIV infections. The company, with nearly 50 global locations including 12 U.S. regional facilities, posted revenue of $27.3 billion in 2021, up 11% from the prior year.

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