Coming Soon to Manchester Pacific Gateway for $1.5B: Waterfront Life Science Campus

Real estate firm IQHQ is taking over five city blocks along the bay for what it’s calling the San Diego Research and Development District.

Waterfront Life Science Campus

(Courtesy of IQHQ)

Hoping to make a splash in downtown’s real estate market, a celebrated biotech office developer has purchased more than 8 acres of waterfront land to create a waterfront life science campus along San Diego’s Bay.

Friday, the newly formed IQHQ real estate investment group, started by storied life science builder Alan Gold, completed its acquisition of around two-thirds — or five city blocks — of the development site known as Manchester Pacific Gateway. The transaction paves the way for what IQHQ is calling the San Diego Research and Development District, or RaDD, as a massive lab-filled campus where ground-floor retail and unrivaled bay views work to recruit the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry.

“What we’re seeing in San Diego as life science thrives and matures here, and the capital is flooding it, is that the central markets are constricted,” said Tracy Murphy, president of IQHQ, in an interview with the Union-Tribune. “So through our relationship with Doug Manchester, in an off-market transaction, we were able to come to terms right after COVID hit to acquire this site. Our vision for it was not that of a conference center or hotel, but really a dynamic, waterfront urban life science city.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The purchase is subject to various local and federal agreements. IQHQ plans to begin construction on site infrastructure immediately with a stated goal of completing the first phase of the district by the summer of 2023. The overall project includes a series of mid-rise structures and one 17-story tower, as well as a museum, and 3 acres of green space and rooftop decks. Development costs are expected to exceed $1.5 billion, the company said.

Manchester Financial Group, meanwhile, will retain two of the site’s eight blocks for a hotel and 1.9-acre plaza, although the firm did not share a timeline for construction.

San Diego Research and Development District

“This incredible development will be the catalyst for biotech to relocate to downtown San Diego and will be the driving force for life sciences growth and expansion,” Doug Manchester, chairman of Manchester Financial Group, said in a statement. “With the entrepreneurism and leadership of IQHQ, and Alan Gold, San Diego will be one of the largest biotech clusters in the world.”

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