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Torrey Pines research campus cleared for Salk-inspired remodel

A rendering of One Alexandria Square, which promises to remake Alexandria’s 22-acre property along North Torrey Pines Road into a timeless home for science research firms.
(Courtesy, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc)

Pre-leased ahead of construction, One Alexandria Square is intended as the gateway to San Diego’s premier life science corridor.

The research campus directly opposite San Diego’s famed Torrey Pines Golf Course will be overhauled to match — and potentially even elevate — the life science prestige of its address at the corner of Science Park Road and North Torrey Pines Road.

Thursday, San Diego Planning Commissioners unanimously approved the permits required for One Alexandria Square, which is a reimagining of Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ existing 22-acre facility sandwiched between Callan Road and Science Park Road in Torrey Pines.

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With the approval, the publicly traded real estate investment trust expects to start construction at the end of the year on three, all-new research and development buildings alongside a large courtyard, pickle ball facilities, a grab-and-go lunch spot, a destination restaurant and an event center. A second phase will add a fourth new building to the campus.

The four, low-rise buildings and amenity spaces will replace two 1970’s-era life science buildings at 10975 North Torrey Pines Rd. and 10931-10933 North Torrey Pines.

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Altogether, One Alexandria Square will introduce 229,000 square feet of new construction and will result in a total of 428,160 square feet of office and lab space, with the footprint including the developer’s existing amenity-rich biotech fun zone known as The Alexandria. The project also includes 1,487 parking spaces, housed both underneath the new buildings and in a standalone parking garage.

“This is one of the premier sites in the country for life science ... . (One Alexandria Square) is going to completely reshape that whole Torrey Pines mesa with kick-ass, timeless architecture that (was) inspired by the Salk (Institute),” Dan Ryan, who is co-chief investment officer for Alexandria, told the Union-Tribune. “The thinking here was to build generational buildings that are timeless in their design, and so it’s going to be an amazing add to that science community.”

Ryan declined to share the cost of One Alexandria Square.

The flagship project, designed by architectural firm NBBJ, will serve as the gateway for Torrey Pines and, by extension, the rest of San Diego, Ryan told commissioners.

One Alexandria Square includes four new research and development buildings, an amenity plaza with a destination restaurant and a parking garage. Tenants will also be able to walk to The Alexandria, an eat-work-play building that includes the Farmer and the Seahorse restaurant, a fitness center and a barber shop.
(Courtesy, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc)

Formally started in 1994 with the purchase of the One Alexandria Square site, Maryland-based Alexandria now operates 42 million square feet of space spread across 446 properties in San Diego, Boston, the Bay Area, New York City and Seattle, according to regulatory filings. In San Diego, the life science developer operates 104 properties and 8.4 million square feet of lab and office space, when including projects under construction. Its holdings are concentrated in Torrey Pines, University City and Sorrento Mesa.

Planning commissioners spoke favorably of One Alexandria Square and its design.

“I think it’s beautiful,” said Kelly Modén, who is vice chair of the Planning Commission. “I think it will contribute to San Diego’s economic vitality and continue to expand (the region’s) presence in the life science community.”

The seven volunteer commissioners, who are appointed by the mayor, were required to sign off on the project’s site development permit. City Council action isn’t required unless the commission’s decision is appealed. The developer requested and received deviations from development regulations that will allow it to build closer to the public right-of-way along North Torrey Pines Road and create a wider-than-usual entry driveway. The project previously received the unanimous support of the University Community Planning Group.

Alexandria has pre-leased three of the project’s buildings. Publicly traded Singular Genomics, a next-generation sequencing technology firm that focuses on oncology and immunology, has leased two of the buildings. Local startup Boundless Bio, which specializes in cutting-edge cancer treatments, has leased the third, Ryan said.

The first phase of construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.