Life sciences areas outside of Cambridge that will grow in 2016

When looking at the life sciences market in the Greater Boston area, it’s almost impossible to avoid the headlines teasing the next drug patent or the next expected IPO filing. A topic less discussed is the imbalance of supply and demand for lab space. With only about 600,000 square feet of available lab space in Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Medford, Somerville and Charlestown, life sciences companies are making sacrifices. One sacrifice is location. We have not seen many life sciences companies open to accepting lab space that is below standard. This has caused an expansion in existing life sciences clusters and even some new emerging markets.

However, the expansion of existing clusters will happen faster than emerging markets because:

  • Companies want to be near similar, existing companies. A “part of the club” mentality.
  • The town, in terms of getting permits and approvals, will have more experience and the process will be completed faster than towns that don’t.
  • A life sciences developer is more likely to make an investment in a building that is surrounded by a similar development.

Here are existing markets where life sciences clusters are forming:

  • Waltham: Boston Properties has had strong leasing growth lately with life science companies. A lab cluster is forming along Bear Hill Road and Second Avenue.
  • Lexington: Specifically 115 Hartwell Avenue. Hartwell Ave has become a cluster in Lexington for life sciences companies. It is easily accessible right off Route 2 for talent coming from Cambridge. Also, placemaking, which is a theme developed by King Street Properties, is effective in Lexington. This is when a high energy collaborative community is created with shared amenities that bring people together. The key to this is the high-level designs that make you feel like you’re in Kendall Square.
  • Bedford: One Patriot Park. This is the conversion of a former flex R+D building into a state of the art robust wet lab. Longfellow is the newest player to the game for biotech developers in the area.  Their leadership team has a ton of experience building labs in areas like Central & Kendall Square.
  • Woburn: 19 Presidential Way. The trend here is converting a large research and development facility for one big pharma tenant into a multi-tenant biotech facility.
  • Watertown: The Linx Project off Arsenal and 65 Grove Street are the hot projects in Watertown that everyone is talking about. These projects offer large blocks of space that are well located on the edge of Cambridge.

Next emerging markets to keep an eye on:

  • Somerville
  • Needham
  • Medford
  • Charlestown
  • Newton

For more information on existing and emerging life sciences areas, Evan Gallagher, executive vice president & principal, recently spoke with Don Seiffert of the Boston Business Journal. You can read the article here.


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