Seaport, Alewife Pitch Life Science Space

Industry Clusters Expanding Outside East Cambridge

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
January 8, 2017

For life science companies in expansion mode, the usual alternative to high-cost, vacancy-starved Kendall Square has been suburban office parks off Route 128.

Now seasoned developers such as Davis Cos. and Related Beal are betting that market conditions are ripe to enlarge life science clusters in Boston’s Seaport District, Cambridge’s Alewife and inner-ring suburbs.

“You’re going to start to see some of the early-stage companies go to the Watertowns and the Seaports of the world, which we haven’t seen in the past,” said Mark Winters, executive managing director for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.

Davis Cos. is laying the groundwork for lab expansion in Alewife. It received city approval on Dec. 12 to renovate and expand 35 Cambridge Park Drive into nearly 190,000 square feet of office and lab space opposite the MBTA Red Line station. The space is expected to be available in mid-2018.

Davis Cos. “have the capital and the ability to create the best biotech lab building in the Alewife market without question,” said Brendan Carroll, director of intelligence for Boston-based Encompass Real Estate Strategies. “It’s the perfect landing point for public transit accessibility and the more seasoned biotech workers who live in the western suburbs.”

While Alewife offers steep rent discounts compared to East Cambridge, the neighborhood has battled the reputation of a suburban environment with downtown traffic congestion. But Cambridge developer King Street Properties’ recent lease-up of vacant former Pfizer lab buildings on Cambridge Park Drive confirmed the neighborhood’s ability to attract early-stage biotech companies. The lab vacancy rate now stands at 0.0 percent in the 627,000-square-foot Alewife submarket, according to Encompass data.

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