Innovation District celebrates an anniversary

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Than_Thearin_ColorFrom Thearin Than
Senior Research Analyst

The Seaport District, once Boston’s industrial neighborhood filled with empty warehouse buildings and parking lots, now stands as one of Boston’s tightest Class B markets with a vacancy rate of 7.0 percent.

This growth can be attributed to late Mayor Menino’s plan to promote the area as Boston’s innovation District in 2010, strategically coinciding with Boston’s diversified employment growth and Cambridge’s tight office market. Over the past five years, the Seaport has attracted both high-profile companies and startups looking to be part of the up-and-coming neighborhood. Among the first companies to relocate to the Seaport were LogMeIn, Life is Good, Jumptap and Zipcar.

Despite limited available space, the Seaport continues to experience steady leasing activity. Last year, Healthways signed a lease for 26,000 square feet at 27-43 Wormwood Street, relocating from the South End; and RBM Technologies leased 16,500 square feet at 268 Summer Street, moving from Cambridge. Of note, LogMeIn signed a lease for 117,800 square feet to occupy all of 333 Summer Street, doubling its footprint here

Given the Seaport’s proximity to Boston’s urban core, major companies including State Street, PwC and Goodwin Procter have relocated or committed to relocating to the neighborhood. State Street consolidated several Downtown and Back Bay offices and relocated to a 500,000-square-foot building at One Channel Center early 2014. The construction of PwC’s and Goodwin Procter’s buildings remains well underway and is slated to be completed by the end of 2016 and 2017 respectively.

The neighborhood has continued to experience considerable growth in high-rise residential buildings. Last year alone, the Seaport saw three new residential buildings totaling 830 units delivered: Pier 4, Waterside Place and 315 on A. The area’s residential stock is poised to increase over the next two years as three more projects consisting of 1,300 units are under construction.

The growing attractiveness of the district has also prompted large-scale retail developments. The two 22-story buildings at One Seaport Square will feature 832 apartments and 250,000 square feet of retail space when it opens in summer 2017.

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One Seaport Square will include 832 apartments and about 30 new stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues

In the near term, the number of new development projects in the Seaport shows no signs of slowing. The remaining parking lots present development opportunities for major office tenants from Boston and Cambridge looking to be part of the up-and-coming neighborhood while enjoying brand new space built to meet their specific office configurations.

The next five years will continue to prove pivotal to the Seaport’s transformation.

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