(SOURCE: The Curtis)

Keystone Adds 200,000 More Square Feet of Life Science Space in Philadelphia

Sponsored by ECBuild / EwingCole

By Mark Terry
January 31, 2023

West Conshohocken, Pa.-based Keystone, a commercial real estate development and investment company, is more than doubling lab space in Philadelphia’s Center City. The company recently announced the expansion of its laboratory space at The Curtis, adding 200,000 square feet to provide more than 325,000 square feet.

Jamie Rash, Regional Director at Keystone, told BioBuzz, “The initial infrastructure that was added at The Curtis was to accommodate lab users on floors six through eight. Fortunately, leasing activity has outpaced expectations, so we needed the ability to open up other floors for future conversion.”

The building has 12 floors and 912,245 square feet. Work on the expansion is expected to start in the first quarter of this year. The conversion will also include installing a state-of-the-art exhaust system in addition to more hot water loops and steam infrastructure.

“Construction will be finished in the second quarter of 2023,” Rash said.

The Curtis is within walking distance of Thomas Jefferson University and other city research institutions. The building’s laboratory facilities include a 15-foot deck-to-deck ceiling height, 15 watts of power per square foot, 1,100 kilowatts of backup power for the life science space, and additional infrastructure common to high-end laboratories. That includes vibration-resistant floors able to support 200 pounds per square foot for heavy laboratory instruments, fresh air intakes, dual power supply, freight elevators, and loading docks.

The building was built by publishing magnate Cyrus Curtis in the 1890s. From that publisher came The Saturday Evening Post and most notably Ladies’ Home Journal, which at its peak had 6 million subscribers. The Saturday Evening Post was well-known for publishing works by literary giants like Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, and Jack London. Curtis’ Curtis-Martin Newspapers ran the Philadelphia Public Ledger, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Evening Post.

In October 2022, Keystone secured a loan from Nuveen Real Estate worth $265.2 million to expand The Curtis, as the Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal noted, “to construct the mission-critical infrastructure required for the surging demand for lab space in Center City.”

Keystone acquired The Curtis in 2014 and redesigned the ground-floor streetscape and the building’s atrium. It converted existing office space into luxury residential units while shifting the previous printing press space to wet lab space for biotech companies. Companies with facilities in the building include IMVAX, Vivodyne, and Aro Biotherapeutics. Life science incubator BioLabs also has a 53,000-square-foot incubator and graduate suites facility in the building.

Rash told BioBuzz, “Our goal at The Curtis is to build on the dynamic life sciences community that has been created, where companies can start with one bench in the BioLabs incubator and grow into their own suites as they work their way through the development process. We believe that The Curtis will eventually be the largest life science asset in the entire city.”