Historic Boston Area Gets Long-Due Facelift
Who knew that biotech players would be the ones to lead a boom in one of the most historic areas in the country? Despite being home to Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., just outside of Boston, has also harbored a wasteland of empty lots where factories once were located but that haven’t ever been fully developed since.
Spinoff companies from the adjacent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) transformed the neighborhood into a major research hub, but the area was far from offering coffee shops and boutiques—until now. The Kendall Square corner of Cambridge is at the center of a real estate boom; cranes are busy on eight separate construction sites in this area; and roughly two million square feet of space is being built or renovated or is under city review there. An additional 1.4 million new square feet is committed, and more is expected elsewhere. If it all gets built, the new investment in Cambridge will come close to $2 billion.
Most of that growth is connected to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including new buildings for Pfizer and Novartis. Amazon just revealed plans to rent 100,000 square feet there; Google is expanding its footprint by 40,000 square feet; and Microsoft, I.B.M., and Nokia are nearby.
Trends in philanthropy are helping Cambridge become one of the hottest submarkets in the country. Large donations from private philanthropies helped build the $200 million David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, completed last year on the M.I.T. campus, in addition to a second, 250,000-square-foot building for the Broad Institute, a genetics research institute spun off from Harvard and M.I.T.
Another boost is coming from area hospitals. Five Harvard-affiliated hospitals and Harvard Medical School are clustered in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area. While that area is nearly built out, Kendall Square is one stop on the rail line from Mass General, the Harvard-affiliated flagship hospital, providing easy collaboration.