VALHALLA, NY — BioMed Realty Trust last week won a six-month extension to a 2007 site-plan approval to relocate a parking lot within its Landmark at Eastview laboratory-office campus.
The duration of the relocation, to a lot straddling two suburban towns north of New York City, is for half of the year-long extension BMT originally had sought from the Mount Pleasant town Planning Board.
BioMed, a publicly traded real estate investment trust based in San Diego, has reasoned that the 12-month extension would improve its chances of signing a lease with one or more tenants for new lab space that it wants to build on the site of the 367-space parking lot on the Mount Pleasant side of Landmark at Eastview, across the street from the portion of the campus within the town of Greenburgh.
BioMed has neither said how much new space it would build, nor identified its prospective tenants for that space. A lawyer for the REIT, Richard O'Rourke of the White Plains, NY, law firm Keane & Beane, told the planning board at its Feb. 5 meeting it remained committed to signing at least one of the would-be tenants with which it is in discussions.
"We have a couple of prospective tenants. We're working with them, but our plans are not finalized," O'Rourke said. "We're attempting to put together a site plan with this potential tenant. You can't build buildings on speculation in these economic circumstances. And while we believe that we're getting closer, we don't have a deal approved."
Yet BioMed could not gain the four votes it needed for the one-year extension. Two of the planning board's seven members — including chairman Michael McLaughlin — were absent, and the board requires a majority of all members, not just those present, to approve agenda items.
While BioMed's one-year extension was supported by Acting Chairwoman Joan Lederman and members Mark Rubeo and George Pappas, another two members insisted on limiting the extension to six months.
The original approval was to expire on March 1.
Regina Pellegrino and Keith Rosner said they didn't want to set a precedent for other projects, adding that the board had never extended its approvals past two years; the parking lot relocation was approved in March 2007.
Pellegrino and Rosner also argued the town should not be bound by a 2007 site plan because Mount Pleasant is looking to revise its "comprehensive plan" governing future land-use, and could require additional regulations to reduce the amount of future land development permissible in the town.
Pellegrino also urged BioMed to speed up its negotiations toward a lease, saying: "It's coming to the point where you either [go] or get off the pot."
"It's not because we're procrastinating; it's because we're trying to make the deals," O'Rourke replied. "We're not delaying it purposely. We want the tenants."
O'Rourke told the planning board BioMed had not completed its acquisition of the Landmark at Eastview until late in 2007. That transaction took time, he said, because the seller — a venture controlled by developer LCOR of Berwyn, Pa. — opted to retain a portion of the campus where Home Depot operates a freestanding store.
After the vote, O'Rourke told BioRegion News that BioMed would "continue to talk with [prospective] tenants," but acknowledged that the shorter-than-expected extension "does make it somewhat more difficult" to come to terms on leases.
The reason: Even if BioMed and a tenant sign a lease immediately, the Landmark at Eastview owner and its tenant would need several weeks to draw up plans for submission to the planning board and other Mount Pleasant officials. Those reviews are likely to take at least several months — though Home Depot took 12 years to break ground, due to several lawsuits between the town and the home improvement retail chain.
The extra space would mark BioMed's second expansion of the Landmark at Eastview since acquiring the 275-acre, approximately 752,000-square-foot laboratory/R&D campus from the LCOR-led venture. Later this year, BioMed will complete the $145 million construction of three interconnected buildings totaling 360,000 square feet on 66 acres. That project, slated to be finished in the first half of this year, is one of three developments BioMed has said it will complete in light of the ongoing financial turmoil [BRN, Nov. 3].
Landmark at Eastview has 21 tenants — of which 10 are either life-science companies or vendors with life-sci clients. Tenants include medical device maker Aerolase, Bayer Healthcare, Emisphere Technologies, Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the specialty pharmaceutical company EpiCept, Profectus Biosciences, PsychoGenics, TechnoVax, and Clinical Marketing Consortium.