Frontier Friday

Freni_JonBy Jonathan Freni, Vice President, Downtown Brokerage

Fifteen years ago, when the city of Boston created a master plan for the development of the Seaport District, many were skeptical about its chances for success. Today, amidst multiple momentous groundbreakings, the size of the submarket has grown to be two-thirds the size of the Back Bay, with average asking rents up $10/SF year-over-year and the lowest vacancy rate in downtown Boston.

With the activity in the Seaport spilling over into neighboring submarkets, the question is often raised regarding which of the many possible candidates will be the next emerging frontier. Over the next few weeks, we will aim to answer this question as we focus on downtown Boston’s growing neighborhoods. To kick it off, here is a preview of each:

Downtown Crossing: As recently discussed by Web Collins, the Downtown Crossing area has grown immensely in the past couple years, attracting technology tenants priced out of the Seaport and breaking ground on new construction and rehabilitations of all product types.

North Station: After Converse’s deal to move its North Andover headquarters to a rehabilitated Lovejoy Wharf, the area is buzzing with proposed projects, including Boston Properties’ expansion of the Boston Garden and HYM Investment’s master plan for the Government Center Garage area.

South End: National Development’s groundbreaking of the Ink Block stirred up a flurry of residential activity. Meanwhile, BioSquare continues to fuel clinical development.

Fenway: One of many Fenway developers, Samuels & Associates has developments underway of all product types, including The Van Ness, the first speculative office building in downtown Boston since ONE Marina Park Drive.

Broadway/Andrew Square: Retail and residential developments continue to emerge in the Broadway and Andrew Square areas, benefiting from the momentum of the MBTA Red Line.

Financial District? It seems unbelievable to suggest the Financial District as possibly the “next” market; the corner of State and Congress Streets has historically been perceived as the center of Boston. However, the activity in neighboring areas such as the Back Bay, Seaport and the aforementioned regions has pulled the hub outward. With large blocks of availability such as those left by Goodwin Procter, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Fidelity, will the Financial District have to adopt practices from these emerging markets in order to attract tenants?

Stay tuned as we explore these markets individually in the upcoming weeks.

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