10 Big Projects to Watch
By Steve Adams | Banker & Tradesman Staff | Jul 14, 2019
Downtown and transit-oriented workspaces remain in vogue. Life science is spreading to the Seaport. Class A office space is expanding in Somerville. And a giant blank slate awaits a verdict on its future on the East Boston-Revere border.
Following a busy second quarter, commercial development in Greater Boston seems positioned to keep up its whirlwind pace for the remainder of 2019. The urbanization trend is reflected by office vacancy rates falling to 7.8 percent in the Boston central business district, according to a recent report by Newmark Knight Frank.
Developers broke ground on 2 million square feet of office space during the second quarter, including over 1.2 million square feet leased to State Street Corp., Amazon and MassMutual. And some of the region’s biggest developers are already making land grabs on the edges of the Seaport District, with the goal of developing office and lab space for the next generation of tenants in time for what they hope will be another Roaring ’20s.
Canal District at Kendall
After paying over $50 million for a rare undeveloped parcel in Kendall Square, BioMed Realty is gearing up for a major development. The life science specialist already owns a 10-acre portfolio in the industry hub, consisting of four commercial and two residential buildings totaling 1.4 million square feet. Salvatore Zinno, BioMed’s vice president of development, said the plans call for a large office and lab building, plus 85,000 square feet of performing arts space approved under the previous ownership. BioMed plans to submit a rezoning petition to the Cambridge city council following the November municipal elections.
Suffolk Downs, East Boston/Revere
Spanning 161 acres of East Boston and Revere and over 16 million square feet of proposed development, Suffolk Downs has ignited debates over the minimum requirement for affordable housing. Developer HYM Investment Group is proposing the standard 13 percent allocation of income-restricted units as required by Boston’s inclusionary development policy. City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who represents East Boston, wants more units set aside for low-income households, citing displacement in the neighborhood from rising apartment rents and condo conversions.
Exchange South End, Boston
The Abbey Group of Boston wants to create a sizeable life science cluster in Boston’s South End with its plans a 1.7-million-square-foot redevelopment of the 5.6-acre former Boston Flower Exchange property. The Boston-based developer is seeking an anchor tenant to kick off construction of the project, which would be ready for delivery in fall 2021.
125 Lincoln St., Boston
One of Boston’s biggest office landlords, Oxford Properties Group, is getting into the ground-up development business. Oxford proposes a 24-story tower in the Leather District with 625,000 square feet of office space two blocks from South Station. The project will require zoning variances for bulk, dimensional, design and use requirements. A public comment period with the Boston Planning and Development Agency closes July 30.
Multifamily developers are flocking to Allston now that the neighborhood offers quicker public transit access to downtown via the 2-year-old Boston Landing MBTA commuter rail station. Stop & Shop is partnering with New England Development on the neighborhood’s biggest project, the proposed 1.2-million-square-foot Allston Yards, which would transform a suburban-style grocery- anchored plaza into a mixed-use development including nearly 900 housing units, 375,000 square feet of office space and 117,000 square feet of retail anchored by a new Stop & Shop.
225 Wyman St., Waltham
The vacancy rate in the Route 128-Mass Pike submarket topped 16 percent in the second quarter, according to Colliers International, but developer Hobbs Brook Management is confident in tenant demand for big blocks of new office and lab space. The Waltham-based firm is building a 500,000-square-foot office and lab-ready building on speculation at 225 Wyman St., with completion scheduled for early 2021. The 5-story building offers the largest contiguous block of class A office space along Route 128, said JLL Managing Director Alex Dauria, who leads the leasing team.
With 2.1 million square feet of planned commercial development, developer DivcoWest is turning the 45-acre parcel known as Cambridge Crossing into the region’s newest high-profile corporate address. After landing a pair of bigfoot anchor tenants in Philips North America and Sanofi Genzyme with leases totaling over 1.2 million square feet, DivcoWest is reportedly close to landing a major tenant for a speculative 540,000-square-foot office and lab building at 250 Dawes St. Local life science companies in the market for large blocks of space include CRISPR Therapeutics and Sage Therapeutics, according to real estate industry sources.
Boston Edison Redevelopment, South Boston
Transit capacity and neighborhood opposition have delayed attempts by Redgate and Hilco Redevelopment Partners to remake the former Boston Edison property. Originally proposed for 2.1 million square feet of mixed-use development, the project is being scaled back for the second time in less than a year. Revised plans submitted last week to the Boston Civic Design Commission call for 1.78 million square feet of development, comprising 750 housing units, nearly 470,000 square feet of R&D space, 330,000 square feet of office space, 344 hotel rooms and 81,000 square feet of retail space. In a statement, Redgate said the BCDC filing is not a final version of its plans and it continues to explore a range of options, including an “all-commercial site.” That option reflects the existence of a Massport deed restriction prohibiting residential use of the property, near its new Conley Container Terminal trucking route. Massport officials said they would hold a public process before the agency’s board votes whether to lift the deed restriction, and spokeswoman Jennifer Mehigan said last week the agency is waiting for an update from the developer before scheduling the public forum.
Harbor Garage Tower, Boston
Attempts to replace the 8-story Harbor Garage with a 900,000-square-foot mixed-use tower remain tied up in litigation. Boston-based Chiofaro Cos. gained the endorsement of the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs in 2018 for new zoning that would permit taller structures than previously allowed, but the Conservation Law Foundation promptly filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court. As public benefits, Chiofaro Cos. had agreed to pay $10 million for a new public promenade from the Rose Kennedy Greenway to the New England Aquarium, along with $300,000 for upgrades to Long Wharf. CLF and Chiofaro Cos. declined to comment on the status of their legal standoff.
Assembly Row and Xmbly, Somerville
Athletic shoemaker Puma is joining Partners Healthcare as the second major corporate headquarters to relocate on the banks of the Mystic River at Assembly Row. Following Puma’s 150,000-square-foot lease at 455 Grand Union Blvd., developer Federal Realty Investment Trust is marketing the remainder of the 13-story office tower currently under construction to office tenants. Another 1.5 million square feet of office and lab building sites is still available. Meanwhile, Cresset Partners and Novaya Real Estate Ventures’ neighboring Xmbly is marketing 650,000 square feet of new office and lab space.
This article has been updated with a statement from Boston Edison property redeveloper Redgate which was received after Banker & Tradesman’s print deadline.
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