IQHQ Adds 1.5-Acre Urban Greenscape to San Diego Waterfront Life Science Campus

Solana Beach, San Diego, IQHQ, Research and Development District, Block 1A, Navy Broadway Complex, Gensler, Seaport District, Boston, Waterfront Park, InterContinental San Diego, Wyndham San Diego Bayside, Westin San Diego, Manchester Pacific Gateway, Manchester Financial, Cushman & Wakefield

By Catherine Sweeney 

Approximately one year after beginning construction on its waterfront life sciences campus, Solana Beach, Calif.-based developer IQHQ received approval from the City of San Diego to add a 1.5-acre park to the growing Research and Development District. Per the agreement, IQHQ would have the right to develop the property as a park through 2117 without further approval from the City. 

The park property is known as Block 1A, and was part of the former 12-acre Navy Broadway Complex located between Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive. Now, the space will serve as an added amenity to the growing life science campus, with pedestrian walkways, landscaping and seating along the waterfront. 

The larger Research and Development District (RaDD) is a $1.5 billion life science campus located on three city blocks between Broadway and Harbor Drive, The Gensler-designed project will be the largest urban commercial waterfront development along California’s Pacific coast, reaching 1.7 million square feet. Set to be completed in the summer of 2023, the life science campus will span five buildings and include a mix of office, lab and support retail space spanning five buildings. 

“The Research and Development District is exciting on so many levels – not only does it represent our first acquisition in the San Diego region, which IQHQ is proud to call home, we also have an opportunity to create the first truly urban waterfront campus dedicated to the advancement of life sciences,” said Tracy A. Murphy, president of IQHQ. “Once complete, the RaDD will be a premier development that will spark and define the region’s commercial life science market in San Diego similar to that of the Seaport District in Boston.”

The property is located along the waterfront on San Diego’s North Embarcadero. Within close proximity to downtown San Diego, the property is near a variety of amenities, including retail, dining and entertainment assets. San Diego’s Waterfront Park along with several museums are just a walk away from the future life science center. The property also benefits from its close proximity to a number of hotels, including IHG’s InterContinental San Diego, Wyndham San Diego Bayside and the Westin San Diego, among many others. 

The life science project was formerly referred to as the Manchester Pacific Gateway, a proposed mixed-use development along the waterfront. However, in September of 2020, developer Manchester Financial sold eight of the total 12-acre project to IQHQ for $230 million to begin the life science development, according to previous industry reporting. The remaining four acres are being developed by Manchester Financial with a 1,000-key luxury hotel and a new 372,000 square-foot Navy headquarters building.

San Diego continues to be a hotspot for growth in the life sciences sector. According to a third quarter market report from Cushman & Wakefield, vacancy in the city’s life sciences market continues to decrease, dropping approximately 140 basis points quarter-over-quarter to just 6.5 percent. In addition, 339,521 square feet of space was absorbed by life science tenants in the third quarter, marking the third consecutive quarter of positive net absorption and bringing the year-to-date total to 936,276 square feet.