Behind the Project: Longwood Medical Center
The Longwood Medical Area — with 20M SF on 2.2 acres — is the size of a downtown, encompasses the nation’s costliest land, and its labs and offices are full. But there’s a quiet revolution underway: new medical buildings are changing how healthcare is delivered and how new treatments are discovered.
Cushman & Wakefield executive director Frank Nelson (in front of BioMed’s Center for Life Science and Merck Pharmaceutical’s research building) says the healthcare companies and institutions here include five of Boston’s 10 largest employers. They pump $7.6B a year into the regional economy and together are the nation’s top recipients of NIH funding at $1.1B a year. These dollars for science lead to more requirements for research space and hence, more property development, says Frank. (See what was happening here 18 months ago.) He’s got an intuitive knowledge of the area since he grew up just the other side of the Muddy River in Brookline.
Chemistry PhDs Tinghu Zhang and Fleur Ferguson, with biomedical PhD student Carmen Sivakumaren are moving into Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s 155k SF in the new $400M, 425k SF Longwood Center with great expectations for big scientific advances. Carmen says that the building — with its adjacent wet and dry labs, and ample break-out and gathering spaces — will allow researchers to more closely integrate the work they do with each other’s different fields of study and with patient care pros who are just steps away in LMA clinical buildings and other labs.
The result: an accelerated R&D process (see how we covered this). Serious illnesses will be treated with new therapies that work faster and are more effective, says Dr. Barrett Rollins, DFCI’s chief scientific officer. While most LMA property is owned by the institutions that use them, Longwood Center is a rare third-party asset, developed by National Development, Alexandria Real Estate Partners and Clarion Partners. National purchased and permitted the site, then joined forces with Alexandria, a lab expert, and Charles River Realty Investors, an equity investor, says National partner Jack O’Neil. Since there is no other lab space for lease in the LMA, it’s likely that this building will be fully committed by year-end, says Frank, whose team is leasing it.
Dressed for the cold and snow, construction worker Bob Ragozzi, is proud to be on the district’s largest healthcare construction project, Brigham & Women’s Hospital’s $500M, 360k SF Building for the Future that’s designed to transform how patient care is delivered. When completed next year, the hospital will combine several floors of outpatient care with researchers seeking cures to a range of diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis, says Sarah Hamilton of MASCO, a planning agency repping area institutions.
Look like a big snow-covered lawn? At a cost of $40M, the Stoneman Centennial Park and garage completed mid-year ’14, is a big deal. It replaced pavement with open green space to keep the LMA humane and created underground parking for 400 cars. This is critical. Like many LMA medical facilities, the Brigham delivers specialized care to the sickest patients who are referred here from around the region. Many patients must be driven to Boston and must have a ride home to be discharged.
At the nexus of this global leader in healthcare and research is Harvard Medical School (UGL’s Jerry Lacey and George White are making sure all systems are a go despite you-know-what). Around it has grown a constellation of specialized hospitals and institutes that rely on each other for irreplaceable services. That’s one reason why land sells for $150/FAR/SF; offices rent in the $50s/SF gross, clinical space in the $60s/SF and labs for $70/SF to $80/SF NNN (add the cost of utilities, maintenance, taxes and insurance). In this era of rising construction costs, the expense to build here is especially steep. The LMA is so densely packed that new buildings must go as high as possible and the special requirements of medical space (very robust mechanical systems) further increase development cost. (Here's our take on rising asset values.)
The Winsor School, Boston’s oldest girls’ school, is building Phase 1 of its $300M Endowment Project: 110k SF of wellness, athletic and performance centers designed by William Rawn Associates. Slated for completion next year, it features a 500-seat theater, music rooms, a dance studio, technical theater space, two full basketball courts, workout space and squash courts. Winsor has in place entitlements for possible future projects including a 360k SF lab building with parking for 450 cars on one of its playing fields.
A new 40k SF media center is under construction at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design on Huntington Avenue. It’s modest in size but since art feeds the spirit, it may contribute to keeping the great LMA ecosystem in balance.