Thursday, March 29, 2012

NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Long-stalled lab building underway in Longwood

The developers of a long-stalled laboratory building in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area have resumed construction of the $300 million project, part of a burst of development activity in the region’s health care sector.
The complex, to be called Longwood Center, will be a multitiered glass building containing street-level shops and laboratory space at what is now a large vacant lot at Brookline and Longwood avenues.
Builders had stopped construction in the fall of 2008, when the economic downturn left them struggling to find tenants and financing. But health care and medical companies that guarded their cash during the downturn are again in expansion mode, with a range of projects moving forward in Boston and Cambridge.
Longwood Center, which will be on one acre adjacent to the Joslin Diabetes Center, is being developed by a joint venture of Newton-based National Development, Charles River Realty Investors, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. The companies are soon expected to name another partner.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, whose main clinical building is down the street from the Longwood Center site, has expressed interest in occupying the complex.
The project is one of several in the Longwood Medical Area. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is planning to move forward next year with a 360,000-square-foot clinical and laboratory building, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is building a treatment center on Huntington Avenue.
“We’re seeing a lot of activity not only in the Longwood Medical Area, but a lot of the universities’ institutions around the area as well,’’ said Peter Farnum, a senior managing director at the real estate firm Cassidy Turley FHO.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement Thursday that Longwood Center promises to create 400 new jobs.
“New research and development space is important to Boston’s strong and growing life sciences
sector,’’ he said, adding that more than 8 million square feet of additional life sciences development is under review or already approved.
Much of that development is being driven by pharmaceutical companies that are expanding in Boston and Cambridge. Novartis AG, Biogen Idec, and Pfizer Inc. are all building around Kendall and Central squares in Cambridge, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. is constructing a 1.1 million-square-foot complex in the Innovation District in South Boston.
Real estate brokers said Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc., currently in Kendall Square, is considering relocating to 500,000 square feet in the Innovation District, also known as the Seaport District.
Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. are looking at a combined 600,000 square feet of space in Kendall Square.
“There’s a lot of demand coming from existing tenants in the market who continue to invest and grow,’’ said Mark Winters, an executive director with the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. “Several tenants in the market are looking for big blocks of space.’’
Casey Ross Boston Globe March 24, 2012

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