Bisnow: Life Sciences Conversions Could Be The Next Big Thing To Fix Dallas' Office Vacancy Problem

By Olivia Lueckemeyer

The following is excerpted from Bisnow.

The trend of converting office buildings to apartments has generated a lot of buzz, but a growing need for more lab space in DFW could also present an opportunity to revive defunct real estate.

A record number of office-to-lab conversions is underway in the U.S., comprising about a third of the life sciences construction pipeline and 12.5M SF, according to CBRE.

The work is mostly concentrated in major hubs like Boston and San Francisco, but in Dallas-Fort Worth, several companies are exploring the possibility of conversions as a means of addressing rising office vacancies while also making space to grow the region’s burgeoning life sciences ecosystem. …

Building out lab space can be up to three times more expensive than what it costs for office, which is why an investigation of the space prior to signing a lease is critical, said Teresa Rodriguez, managing director of interiors at LPA, a design firm specializing in adaptive reuse and life sciences.


LPA is working on a handful of projects 25K SF or larger in Dallas that are in the feasibility phase as well as a few that are moving forward with construction, she added.

“There’s just a monster checklist of things, and it’s really specific to the type of lab,” Rodriguez said.

One way to accelerate life sciences activity in Dallas is by educating brokers on how to market defunct space as potential labs, Rodriguez said. Agents who have traditionally focused on office are increasingly interested in adopting life sciences as a specialty, she said, but the field is highly technical and requires a lot of training.

Demand for more life sciences space led LPA to launch a series of educational courses aimed at explaining the ins and outs of conversions — the differences between various labs, what they require and potential costs.

“There’s a bit of a learning curve there,” Rodriguez said. “The costs are much higher, and if the infrastructure is not there, that has to be factored in as well.”

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