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New biotech hub is a big win for Dallas’ ambitious Pegasus Park

Dallas Morning News logo Dallas Morning News 9/21/2020 By Steve Brown, The Dallas Morning News
an empty road with trees on the side of a building: Exterior of Pegasus Park tower, the silver high-rise building at Stemmons Freeway and Commonwealth Drive. The building is being remodeled into a nonprofit and biotech workplace center. © Juan Figueroa/ The Dallas Morning News/The Dallas Morning News/TNS Exterior of Pegasus Park tower, the silver high-rise building at Stemmons Freeway and Commonwealth Drive. The building is being remodeled into a nonprofit and biotech workplace center.

An ambitious northwest Dallas redevelopment project has landed its first major tenant.

Massachusetts-based BioLabs is opening its first central U.S. location in the new Pegasus Park project on Stemmons Freeway near Love Field.

The 23-acre office and research campus is being built by Dallas' J. Small Investments in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies.

The long vacant multi-building complex is being converted into a location for medical research, nonprofit organizations and office users.

The BioLabs at Pegasus Park facility will be a 37,000-square-foot life science coworking center with shared laboratory and office spaces. It will open next year.

BioLabs is a national, membership-based network of shared lab and office facilities located in seven U.S. markets. Facilities are in Boston, Cambridge, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Durham, N.C., and Princeton, N.J.

a view of a city: The 23-acre Pegasus Park development on Stemmons Freeway is a project of Dallas' J. Small Investments in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies. © Juan Figueroa/ The Dallas Morning News/The Dallas Morning News/TNS The 23-acre Pegasus Park development on Stemmons Freeway is a project of Dallas' J. Small Investments in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies.

“Considering current extraordinary challenges in health care, the launch of BioLabs at Pegasus Park couldn’t be timelier and more relevant,” said BioLabs founder and president Johannes Fruehauf in a statement. “We have no doubt that our proven business model will foster cross-creativity and collaboration with the region’s premier life science and health care innovators in North Texas.”

Lyda Hill Philanthropies and J. Small Investments announced in July that construction had begun to turn the former Exxon Mobil Corp. headquarters at Stemmons Freeway and Commonwealth Drive into a unique business environment for biotech firms and nonprofit organizations.

The project includes an 18-story tower built in 1968 for jeweler Zale Corp and five surrounding buildings.

Luring Cambridge-based BioLabs is a big win for the project.

“BioLabs is one of the biggest names in the biotech start-up industry,” said a statement from Nicole Small, CEO of LH Capital Inc. and Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “Their decision to choose Dallas as their first location in the central U.S. is significant for our city, region, and state.”

Small said BioLabs' presence will help accelerate North Texas' biotech ecosystem that’s "already ripe with top-tier universities, corporate partners, and investors.”

The new facility is close to Dallas' medical district and near Love Field.

The project developers and medical researchers see the planned shared lab as an opportunity to collaborate and expand the area’s resources.

“Our region has talent, funds, world-class research institutions and facilities, but they are scattered,” said Eric Olson, a University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center research scientist. Olson’s work on gene editing therapies for neuromuscular diseases, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy, led to a deal last year with Boston-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals that could total up to $1 billion.

“With the addition of nationally prominent organizations – including BioLabs, LaunchBio, and others – I envision Pegasus Park becoming the next national biotech hub,” he said.

Biotechs are among the hottest IPOs on Wall Street this year, raising a biggest year on record $12.7 billion in 44 initial public offerings, according to Dealogic, which has been tracking the sector since 1995.

UT Southwestern has been on a roll in commercializing its research.

In May 2019, pharmaceutical giant Merck bought cancer drug spinoff Peloton Therapeutics in a $2.2 billion deal. Earlier this year, Dallas-based biotech startup Lantern Pharma raised $26 million in an IPO.

Dallas-based Taysha Gene Therapies Inc., an early stage company commercializing gene therapies to treat central nervous system diseases, is scheduled to IPO later this week. Taysha is looking to raise up to $131.6 million in its initial stock offering, according to regulatory filings. If successful, the IPO would give Taysha a valuation exceeding $690 million.

Along with the biotech center, more than 150,000 square feet of offices in the Pegasus Park project will be aimed at social-impact, nonprofit and philanthropic tenants.

Dallas' GFF is the architect for the Pegasus Park project and the general contractor is Scott + Reid. The project is scheduled to open early next year.

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©2020 The Dallas Morning News

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