Another major life sciences company is decamping from Kendall Square in search of room to grow.

CRISPR Therapeutics said Tuesday that it has signed a lease to fill an eight-story lab building under construction on A Street in South Boston. The company, which works on gene-editing treatments, will consolidate its offices in Cambridge into the 263,000-square-foot facility, near the Broadway Red Line station, which is set to open in 2022.

The $6.3 billion startup is the latest in a wave of tech and life sciences companies that have been born in Kendall, but lately looked elsewhere around the region for room to expand where space is more available and less expensive, such as Alewife, Watertown, and the Seaport District.

Just 1.1 percent of the roughly 8 million square feet of lab space in East Cambridge is vacant, according to data from real estate firm Newmark Knight Frank, and most of the 1.3 million square feet under construction is already leased.

That has developers seeking to build more, in more places.

A joint venture between development firm Tishman Speyer and Bellco Capital spent $80 million last year to buy 105 West First St., a former RCN facility near Channel Center and Gillette’s World Shaving Headquarters. The Boston Planning & Development Agency had approved plans for an office building there in 2017, but Tishman and Bellco’s firm — known as Breakthrough Partners — asked in December to build lab space instead. The change was approved and the project broke ground this spring.

It’s one of a wave of similar projects in the works in that part of South Boston and Fort Point. Life sciences heavyweight Alexandria Real Estate Equities wants to build a 210,000-square-foot lab building next door at 99 A St., on the site of the Coppersmith bar, and is proposing a life-sciences-oriented office tower on the site once planned for GE’s world headquarters nearby on Necco Street. Just on Monday, development firm Related Beal filed plans for three buildings, more than 1 million square feet in all, with a strong life-sciences component on parking lots it bought last year alongside the Gillette complex.

For CRISPR, moving to Fort Point brings it closer to Vertex Pharmaceuticals, which kicked off the Kendall-to-Seaport migration when it moved its headquarters to Fan Pier in 2014. In June 2019, the two firms announced a $175 million “expanded collaboration” to develop treatments for muscular dystrophy, which are now in testing. That’s one of a number of treatments CRISPR is working on, including cancer drugs it is testing. The Fort Point building would give it room to consolidate several smaller local offices, and grow.

The Swiss company is expanding here in other ways. In June it announced plans to build a new cell manufacturing facility in Framingham, and it recently closed a $517.5 million stock offering.

“We are thrilled to partner with CRISPR, one of the world’s emerging leaders in the biotech industry, as it continues to develop therapies that change the way we fight disease,” Breakthrough Properties chief executive Dan Bellegrun said in a statement. “There has never been a more important time to focus on the scientific innovation.”


Tim Logan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.





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