Will a former furniture factory become a symbol of El Sereno’s biotech future?

The future home of HATCH, a home for bio tech startups

EL SERENO — The opening of a few art spaces and studios over the years on Alhambra Avenue stirred up talk of an “arts corridor” forming in this strip of old factories and auto repair shops. But now another vision is emerging for this busy El Sereno street: biotech.

Urbanize L.A. reports that a developer is working to transform a 1930s furniture factory in the 5300 block of Alhambra into offices and labs for bio-tech startups that have outgrown their incubator space.

HATCH, as the development will be known, is among the first examples of properties being transformed to take advantage of the L.A. Bioscience Corridor.  It’s a swath of mostly industrial and commercial properties  along Valley Boulevard and Alhambra Avenue, roughly between Cal State L.A. in El Sereno and the USC Health Science campus in El Sereno.

The corridor is being championed by L.A. Bioscience Hub, a group dedicated to supporting and promoting the bioscience industry in the area.  The organization sees opportunity in the many old, neglected and relatively small industrial and commercial buildings that dot the area:

“Industrial properties in Los Angeles are hard to come by, but the LA Bioscience Corridor offers readily available space for everything from start-ups to first-stage firms looking for space to show proof of concept or scale-up production. Currently, many of the properties in the Corridor, particularly along Valley Boulevard, are underutilized and primed for repositioning to service Los Angeles’ growing biomedical industry.”

But converting these older buildings to attract biotech firms goes beyond just exposing brick walls and polishing concrete floors. As the developers of HATCH found out, creating office and lab space suitable for biotech tenants is more complicated than a traditional real estate renovation.

“Our research needs to be deeper than direct comparable sales and current market rents, which simply don’t exist,”  real estate investor Allan Glass told Urban Land magazine.

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