When looking for ideal office space north of the city, prospective building owners and tenants have often capitalized on lower rents, while sacrificing on location, transportation and amenities. However, with a competitive workforce full of young talent, towns and cities recognize the need to provide amenities such as hotels, grocery stores, fitness and retail.
North of Boston, Burlington has been a hotspot for the past couple of years, with projects such as National Development’s “The District”, and Nordblom’s “3rd Ave” which have added a host of amenities to the area including restaurants, retail, and lodging. Although the Burlington office market continues to grow from these capital projects, many of the existing tenants facing lease renewals are being forced to explore alternative locations due to economics. Our North team takes a look at where the next hotspots are developing, and what features are making them attractive to buyers and tenants.
- Lowell: The market in Lowell is holding strong as many office buildings have undergone capital infusion projects and rebranding to attract new tenants. At the intersection of Route 3 and I
-495, Lowell’s newly upgraded office complex “Cross Point” recently landed Kronos to lease 435,000 SF – giving the Lowell market a huge boost. A true amenity-rich location developed with the tenant in mind, Cross Point includes a fitness and gaming center, full-service café and micro market, on-site daycare, event space, and a coffee bar. It is the reimagining of older buildings like Cross Point that can attract market leading tenants to locations that were once undesirable. A similar example, 59 Lowe’s Way at Connector Park has recently added upgrades like a renovated lobby, Wi-Fi access in common areas and fitness center, which has spurred leasing activity.
- Littleton: In Littleton, new mixed-use development, The Point, has been a major driver of tenants to the area. It includes major grocer Market
Basket, a Courtyard Marriott as well as retail and entertainment options. Nearby office/flex property 25 Porter Road is slightly farther down I-495 and conveniently located near the Littleton/Route 495 MBTA commuter rail stop. With the combination of nearby transit and wealth of local amenities, 25 Porter Road recently landed veterinary supply company Alpha Pet Tech to a 5,676 SF long term lease.
- Chelmsford: With the departure of major tech company Kronos to Lowell, Chelmsford looks to rebound and aims
to add value to its properties and amenities to the area. One such property is Omni Way, a Class-A office/R&D park located close to major highways I-95 and I-495 in the heart of Massachusetts’ high-tech region. Omni Way boasts onsite amenities including an outdoor patio and parking, as well as high-visibility from route 129 with signage opportunities. While Chelmsford has a number of strong properties like Omni Way, the City is looking to address the recent uptick in vacancy with a zoning overlay that would bring retail, and other amenities to attract new tenants. Our North team has been attending meetings of the Route 3 Coalition, a group of communities on the Route 3 corridor that are helping to shape its future. With plans to set up shuttles to and from the commuter rail to local office parks, Chelmsford could potentially solve its transit woes and grow to be a major office and industrial hotspot in the region.
As companies seek value and quality office space outside of Boston, many turn their attention north. As Burlington continues a steady increase in absorption and rental rates, other markets must bolster their offerings with restaurants, retail, lodging and on-site amenities to be competitive in today’s market and attract new businesses. Recent successes in Lowell and Littleton are two examples of how “if you add amenities, they will come”.
NAI Hunneman’s North Market Team consists of Jim Boudrot, David Gilkie, Michael Allen and its newest member Cormac Sullivan. Look for a Q&A blog to learn more about Cormac coming soon.