Life sciences REIT IQHQ Inc. and local co-developer Meredith Management have begun construction on their Fenway Center project, a $1 billion life science campus in Boston.
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The LEED Gold project will be built on an air rights deck that will connect the Beacon Street and Brookline Avenue bridges over the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90). The initial phase of construction consists of excavation and other preparations for that deck, an IQHQ spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive.
Fenway Center, the developers stated, will both anchor a growing life science district between Kenmore Square and the Longwood Medical and Academic Area and “dramatically improve pedestrian connections” between the latter and the Audubon Circle, Fenway, Kenmore Square, Boston University and Back Bay neighborhoods.
Upon completion, Fenway Center will feature two towers totaling 960,000 square feet of life science space, as well as an automated garage accessible from both buildings, and about 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail along Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street.
The location offers easy access to public transportation and numerous amenities, including the Lansdowne MBTA commuter rail station, the Kenmore Square and Fenway Green Line Stations, Fenway Park and the Lansdowne Entertainment District.
It will also feature about 1.6 acres of landscaped green space, called Life Science Park and intended to showcase art and exhibition spaces dedicated to the history, achievements and heroes of the life science and public health sectors.
The 90,000-square-foot air rights deck over the Mass Pike reportedly is the largest air rights structure built in Boston since Copley Place in 1980 and it will take about 24 months to complete.
Construction of the life science buildings on top of the deck is scheduled for completion in early 2025.
Staying very busy
IQHQ has been active recently in both development and acquisition. Last May, it bought an approximately 200,000-square-foot life science campus in Andover, Mass., for $35.9 million. This was followed in July by the acquisition of Alewife Park, a 290,000-square-foot life science campus in Cambridge, Mass., in a $125 million sale-leaseback deal.
In September, IQHQ broke ground on its $1.5 billion San Diego Research and Development District on an 8-acre waterfront site.
And along the way, the REIT in November finished a $1.7 billion equity raise.
The Boston life science market continues to lead the nation, with a strong concentration of life sciences employment, supplemented by venture capital funding and steady occupancy, according to a fourth-quarter 2020 outlook from JLL. Average vacancy in the metro area is 6.4 percent, and rents have steadily risen to an average of $73.87, triple net.
Almost $6 billion in sales transactions were completed in the fourth quarter, including development sites and office-to-lab conversions. Just the conversions totaled more than 3.1 million square feet in the fourth quarter, JLL reported.