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Developer proposes life-sciences buildings on WBZ-TV site on Soldiers Field Road after station moves into new quarters next door

Map of WBZ site

The blue area is where life sciences would live; the pink would be WBZ's new home.

National Development told the BPDA this week it will soon file plans for a three-building, 700,000-square-foot life-sciences R&D complex at 1170 Soldiers Field Rd., where WBZ long maintained a backup AM tower and where the TV station lands its helicopter.

The plans for buildings of seven and eight stories on the six-acre site hinge on the Newton developer's earlier plans to replace a small office building on Soldiers Field Road at Everett Street with new offices and studios for WBZ. The BPDA board approved that project in December.

Once the station is in its new home, National would begin construction of one of the three buildings and two levels of underground parking, as well as sidewalks and the like. The building would have ground-floor retail space.

The other two buildings would only go up when "market conditions" are right, the company said in a letter of intent.

In addition to filing plans for the three buildings, National Development says it will file for a "planned development area" designation for the site - which would let it and the BPDA basically toss the site's existing zoning and negotiate specifics for the parcel.

1170 Soldiers Field Rd. filings.

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Comments

From Boomtown to life science the area has changed,

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Voting closed 22

Biotech / Life Sciences is big here in town, but for the love of cheese, can someone please send me links to stats that state we really need **this** much "life science" space. And I want numbers, not 'projections', or anecdotal data. I don't think it exists, and it only exists in 'projections' in the dollar-sign eye'd real estate developers.

Unlike the housing market where there's more buyers than homes, we know this in facts & numbers. Life Sciences, not so much.

I just say this... like I just said, we have more buyers than homes, should we continue to build "life science" space? I mean, what good are all these spaces if people are commuting from further distances because there's no place to live.

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Voting closed 40

Biotech / Life Sciences is big here in town, but for the love of cheese, can someone please send me links to stats that state we really need **this** much "life science" space. And I want numbers, not 'projections', or anecdotal data. I don't think it exists, and it only exists in 'projections' in the dollar-sign eye'd real estate developers

You said you get it -- but then you questioned the market

Well the best way to think about the demand is in terms of what it costs to get some lab space -- the current going rate of about $100 / sq ft in Kendall Sq. is well above the rate for anything else in Greater Boston [office, 2 bedroom apartment, Amazon Warehouse]. Vacancy rate is another measure -- when it is as low as it currently is [nearly immeasurable] -- that tends to suggest a lot of demand.

Is this extremely hot market for lab space a good indicator of the future -- Only time will tell. On the contrarian side we do have the wildly excessive estimates of the need for Internet-related space about 20 years ago [the guesses were off by about a factor of 10].

In favor of continuing big numbers for labs in Greater Boston there are several pluses:

  1. Boston Area Bio/Pharma Cluster including both home grown [e.g. Biogen, Moderna, Vertex] and Global players [e.g. Takeda, Sanofi, Pfizer, Novartis, Roche]
  2. Impact of Supporting AI and other Tech which we are good at also [e.g. Broad Institute, IBM Watson Health
  3. The enormous investments in the World Class University Labs [MIT, Harvard, BU]
  4. World Class Medical Schools and Teaching / Research Hospitals
  5. Supporting Industrial Base including major HQs of developers of health equipment, bio-manufacturing, health software [e.g. Ginkgo Bioworks: The Organism Company]
  6. A well established VC community with lots of experience in the bio/pharma space

Is the above a guarantee that the demand for labs will continue ad infinitum -- no of course not -- but it certainly suggests that the ride will continue for some time to come

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Voting closed 42

I wish I had hard data, maybe I'll try to find some if I have any downtime today.

But as someone who's been in it for a while (including the last 5 years at a biotech startup in One Kendall), the demand is really insane and all signs point to it continuing for a long time. There's a fair bit of turnover as companies move around (or fail) but nothing sits empty for any amount of time, and a lot of companies are making do with smaller spaces than they want/need just to stay around here. AFAIK the new Boynton Yards building is mostly or even totally leased out and it's not even finished.

The talent is here, as you said just about all the major players are here, and the VCs never slowed down even during the pandemic.

And yeah the market...what we're paying in rent is eye-watering (though I'm a scientist, not a business or RE person).

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Voting closed 29

That parcel reminds me of Ohio.

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Voting closed 32

As a condition of approval, they should guarantee that a pedestrian entrance will always be available on the McDonald Avenue side of the property, and they should build a sidewalk down Speedway Avenue to Western Avenue.

If fences make you walk around via Soldiers Field Road and Everett Street, it turns a somewhat reasonable bus commute into a difficult one few people will bother with.

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Voting closed 37