Case Study

McGill University

McGill University Secures much-needed wet lab space in a tight market.

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Lab coworkers working on lab analysis - McGill University

Research Lab Acquisition

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McGill is one of Canada’s most widely recognized Universities and is considered a world-class institution of higher learning. Founded in 1821, roughly 30% of its over 39,000 students hail from more than 150 countries worldwide. Many scientific discoveries and innovations were born out of McGill’s teaching and research programs.


Approximately 7,000 square feet of built-out, temporary, wet lab space was required in close proximity to the Macdonald Campus in Ste. Anne de Bellevue as a swing space for a major renovation of their existing research facility. Demand for wet lab space in the area was very high, however there was no supply of plug and play labs in the vicinity.


CBRE conducted an exhaustive space search across the GMA’s five primary research hubs. After meeting with local incubators, research hospitals, industrial commissioners, and life science space developers, it was determined that all viable lab space options were either too far from the student body or would require over 18 months to build out.

The CBRE team recalled that McGill had occupied a 15,000 square foot downtown lab building several years prior that was currently unoccupied and required minimal investment to be rendered functional again. Despite being outside of the original desired location, upon further analysis, the proximity to the downtown campus, minimal renovation costs, and familiarity with the space made for an optimal solution.


CBRE negotiated a sizeable tenant improvement allowance at below-market rents. The tenant also benefitted from low renovations costs. Given the limited supply and high demand for wet lab space, McGill opted to sign a lease as the sole occupant for a larger space and a longer term.

The result being that the space needs of several research departments were satisfied. This creative solution received the necessary endorsement from the Ministry of Education.

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