The Brain Train is roaring down the track

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Commercial, residential, and retail development is occurring up and down the Red Line, which was the topic of conversation at the recent NAIOP event held at the Boston Seaport’s new Aloft Hotel.

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Tim Love from design firm Utile set the stage with a look at the demographics driving growth and mentioned that his company is looking at areas beyond either end of the Red Line at Quincy and Alewife for future development.

Stephen Murphy of Campanelli presented a case study on their Heritage Landing Quincy business campus. “It was described as a white elephant when we started the project,” he said. “The punch line is that in the last three years we’ve done 350,000 square feet of leases, with 70% of the tenants moving from Boston.”

The Bulfinch Companies’ Eric Schlager provided a historical perspective of the West Cambridge/Alewife submarket proclaiming, “West Cambridge is no longer the ugly stepsister. Today’s Alewife is vibrant, amenity rich, and attracting tech tenants.” He pointed to Amgen, Celgene and Unum Therapeutics as examples.

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According to Schlager, “Alewife is no longer a release valve. It is a thriving place to do business.” His company, Bulfinch, is currently negotiating with several potential tenants for an up to 250,000-square-foot build-to-suit office and lab building at the 30-acre Cambridge Discovery Park, the third largest business campus in Cambridge.

Panelist David Hall of The Hanover Company—which will control approximately 800 residential units in Alewife by 2018—said that his firm is on a buying spree, scooping up parking lots all along the Red Line’s path.

Redgate’s Kyle Warwick spoke on the promise of Quincy, which he coined as part of Boston’s “outer urban ring.” His company has embarked on a four-phase plan in the area which will include more than 1,200 residential units, 600,000 square feet of office space and a hotel.

As evidenced by the day’s discussions, there’s no question about it, the Brain Train is running on all cylinders.

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