A half-billion-dollar life-sciences lab — one of the last prominent pieces of the Boston Landing mega-development that has transformed its corner of Allston-Brighton from a low-slung industrial zone into a buzzy beacon of sports, business, and music — broke ground on Thursday.
The nine-story, 350,000-square-foot building at 60 Guest St., will go up along the Massachusetts Turnpike between the practice facilities for the Boston Bruins and Celtics. It’s a site developers Lendlease and Ivanhoé Cambridge bought from NB Development Group — the real estate arm of New Balance which has led the Boston Landing project — last year for $67 million. The shoemaker then used the proceeds to help pay for The Track at New Balance, an indoor track and field venue that opened in April — and where a relay team promptly set a world record.
“It’s a nice ecosystem,” said Nick Iselin, executive general manager of development for Lendlease. “It will be a premier example of what a new urban precinct can be and should be.”
Building in a master-planned development that has been years in the making, with prominent visibility and access to transportation was appealing, said Jonathan Pearce, executive vice president of leasing and development at Ivanhoé Cambridge.
“It’s got a very vibrant streetscape. There’s a sense of community,” he said. “It isn’t just a building that’s being dropped down in the middle of an unestablished submarket.”
It has been seven years this month since New Balance opened its world headquarters and kickstarted the transformation of what was once the Allston stockyards into one of Boston’s most prominent mixed-use developments. Since then, the campus has opened multiple buildings along the Pike and Guest Street, including apartments, offices, labs, retail, and restaurants. The Roadrunner concert venue, located inside the track and field facility, also opened this spring, and a hotel is still in the works.
The Boston Landing campus also has its own eponymous Commuter Rail station, funded by New Balance owner and chairman Jim Davis. The station opened in 2017, bringing commuter rail service to the neighborhood for the first time in more than half a century, since the Turnpike was extended from Newton into downtown Boston. The station in turn helped draw other developers, who have since flocked to nearby blocks around Boston Landing with proposals large and small, pitching housing, offices, and more.
“The success of Boston Landing — it has been that mushroom effect for all our community,” said Anthony D’Isidoro, president of the Allston Civic Association. “It gave the green light to a number of projects along the Mass. Pike.”
Next door to Boston Landing sits Allston Yards, a 1.2 million-square-foot mixed-use campus planned at a Stop & Shop-anchored shopping center that started construction last year. Beyond that, there’s a proposed 12-story lab and six-story residential building. Across the Pike at the long-vacant 176 Lincoln St., plans are in the works for an “innovation village” with three commercial and residential buildings.
The volume of new development, and the rapidity with which it’s been introduced to the neighborhood, has been a difficult change for some residents. And there’s still more change to come, such as a long-planned replacement of the Allston Viaduct, the proposed West Station transit hub, and Harvard University’s Enterprise Research Campus, all set to the north of Boston Landing between the Turnpike and the Charles River.
“Allston/Brighton’s undergoing generational change in more ways that one,” D’Isidoro said.
Lately, though, there have been some economic headwinds. Framingham-based audio company Bose Corp. was one of the first office tenants to move into Boston Landing in 2018, but lately has been laying off workers, and has listed its Boston Landing office for sublease, the Boston Business Journal previously reported. And demand for biotech space, which had reached a frenetic pace amid the COVID-19 pandemic, has begun to slow.
That “normalization” isn’t a concern for Lendlease and Ivanhoé Cambridge at 60 Guest St., said Pearce, whose firm hopes to open the new building — which it is calling “Forum” — in 2024.
“A little bit of gas is being released from the balloon, and quite frankly, there needed to be,” he said. “Boston is the most important life-science market in the United States.”