SANTA MONICA—The pharmacy company Kite Pharma has purchased a 160,000 square-foot R&D space in Santa Monica.

Gilead Sciences Inc., the research-based biopharmaceutical company that owns Kite Pharma, purchased the property for Kite Pharma for around $135 million, or $844 per square-foot. That makes the purchase the largest ever made for a Research and Development (R&D) complex in Santa Monica.

Kite Pharma focuses on CAR-T, a method of gene therapy, where a patient’s T-cells are extracted and used for any number of therapies for research fighting such ailments as leukemia and lymphoma.

The property, which is located at 1800 Stewart St., was sold to Gilead by Agensys, another biopharmaceutical company that specializes in using antibodies to combat cancer. Agensys’ owner, the Japanese company Astellas, decided in 2017 to slowly end its biopharmaceutical branch, and so has sold off the property to wind down Agensys.

Gilead Sciences Inc. indicated the company is looking to get deeper into the field of cellular gene therapy. In addition to the R&D the space is providing, it is likely to give Kite Pharma room for Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) and Computer-Mediated Communications (CMC) as well.

“There is a lot of excitement about what is the next economic demand driver in Los Angeles, and one answer is science and research and development in biotech,” said Greg Bisconti, Executive Director of the life science practice group at Cushman & Wakefield to the LA Business Journal. “Now that Kite Pharma is growing full speed and buying and expanding in Santa Monica, it could be the next growth driver.”