Transformation of the eastern end of Boston’s Seaport District is accelerating as experienced developers blend traditional industrial uses with a recent infusion of life science and tech companies.
“It’s a combination of activities that makes this area of Boston different than a lot of places and what will drive tenants into the market,” said Quentin Reynolds, managing director of investments for Boston-based Davis Cos., at a NAIOP Massachusetts forum Tuesday. “They’re not looking at shiny glass towers. It’s this mixed use of technology and gritty manufacturing and process engineering.”
Developers described plans for upgrades to Drydock Avenue buildings and over 3 million square feet of new projects including two hotels, office and lab space in the Seaport District’s evolving eastern edge.
Davis Cos. recently acquired the lease for Massport’s 88 Black Falcon Ave., a 3-story, 376,675-square-foot converted warehouse that’s 94 percent leased to tenants ranging from law firms to freight companies. It’s working with Boston-based architects Dyer Brown on new tenant amenities, exterior signs and artwork to draw attention to the 10.5-acre property at the far end of the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park. Approximately half of the building is occupied by office users, with the remainder of the building leased to industrial, R&D and distribution companies.
Reynolds credited Atlanta-based developer Jamestown’s success at the nearby 1.3-million-square-foot Innovation and Design Building – including this fall’s relocation of Reebok’s global headquarters from Canton – for raising the neighborhood’s profile as a job center.
Related Beal acquired the lease for the 286,000-square-foot 27 Drydock Ave. late last year. The 8-story building has a substantial life science tenant base, including Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Ginkgo Bioworks.
Because of Logan International Airport flight paths, developers can’t build structures taller than 250 feet in the neighborhood. Skanska USA is looking at the airport’s proximity as a marketing opportunity for its 13-story Two Drydock office building, with potential large rooftop graphics that could be seen from departing aircraft, said John Sullivan, a partner at Boston-based architects Spagnolo Gisness & Assoc.
“What a great opportunity for visibility,” Sullivan said.
Massport and Wellesley-based Harbinger Development plan to add nearly 1,500 hotel rooms at two separate sites on Summer Street. Harbinger’s Marine Wharf hotel at 660 Summer St. will be positioned to attract business, convention and leisure travelers with 160 extended-stay Homewood Suites-branded rooms and 245 select-service Hampton Inn rooms, Harbinger Managing Partner Eamon O’Marah said.
“It’s an airport hotel, a neighborhood hotel and a marine park hotel,” O’Marah said.
Massport is negotiating with a consortium of developers led by Omni Hotels on plans for a 1,054-room hotel on a Massport parcel across from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Construction of a 1,550-space parking garage and transportation center is under way on an adjacent site. The project addresses the loss of thousands of parking spaces in the Seaport as development covers former surface parking lots, Massport CEO Thomas Glynn said.