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This Week’s Boston Deal Sheet


MIT is a big believer in collaboration and to further the cause it submitted to the city a $1.2B plan to build 1.5M SF in six new Kendall Square buildings to provide more places for brilliant people to meet, one MIT official said. It's likely to get a green light in early ’16, the city tells us.


After extensive meetings with the city and residents, MIT has come up with a proposal for new offices, R&D, retail and housing that's consistent with  Cambridge's planning goals, says Cambridge Acting Assistant City Manager for Community Development Iram Farooq (below). The pieces are all there; "it’s a matter of fine tuning,” she adds. Around the T-stop, the Institute wants to build: three R&D buildings, one retail/office building, 740 residential units in two buildings, and open space.


In 2010, it completed its last $1B, 10-year plan developing 10 buildings on its campus designed by starchitects like Frank Gehry, Steven Holl and Fumiko Maki. Now, it will turn its attention toward the neighborhood. Iram says the new plan creates room for the knowledge economy to flourish and strengthens the ties between academia and industry.


It will bring more housing into the Square—something neighbors have long wanted—along with open space and retail. The key, says Iram, is that it makes a connection between the neighborhood, business and the university. As an institutional investor, MIT plans decades in advance and invests about 10% to 12% of its endowment in real estate. 


One of Cambridge's largest landlords, Boston Properties, is working with the city to allow more development in Kendall Square. The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority long ago designated BP as the master redeveloper for its Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan. On Monday, the CRA will submit to the city council a plan that would allow 600k SF of new offices and 400k SF of housing, Iram tells us. As of Q2, Cambridge's office vacancy rate is 4%. Class-A average asking rents are $69.37, up from $49.75 two years ago. Of the metro region’s $4B in investment sales, $2.2B were Cambridge assets, JLL reports. 


Emerson College secured nearly $133M in tax-exempt bond financing through MassDevelopment, to build a nearly 90k SF, 400-bed residence hall at 1-3 Boylston Place. It will also use the money to do site prep for construction at the Little Building residence hall, buy and install an IT system for the journalism studio at 120 Boylston St, buy furniture and equipment, and refund prior MassDevelopment bonds.


Boylston Properties started construction at 480/490 Arsenal St in Watertown on a $60M gut renovation and expansion of a vacant former warehouse into an office building aimed at youthful companies. By next summer, it expects to complete the 185k SF multi-tenant office building designed by Spagnola Gisness, says Boylston Properties president Bill McQuillan.


Japanese discounter Uniqlo says it’s planning a permanent store on two levels in Quincy Market. The 12k SF, two-level shop will replace a pop-up the clothier’s been operating at the historic marketplace. It will invest more than $1M to renovate.


Rakuten Inc, the largest e-commerce website in Japan, is opening a new research site in Boston, the Rakuten Institute of Technology. It currently occupies office space at 2 South Station but declined to give the address of the new center dedicated to AI research. It will be led by Ankur Datta, who has worked as a data scientist in Cambridge for Akamai and Amazon.


Two new biotech tenants will move into about 34k SF of BioMed Realty Trust lab and office space in Cambridge vacated by Vertex and repositioned as the 293k SF Sidney Research Campus at 200 Sidney St, 40 Erie St and 21 Erie St. CRISPR, a biopharmaceutical company, is taking nearly 20k SF and Synlogic, a biotech firm, will lease 14k SF.


Ernst & Young has downsized in the Hancock Tower in Back Bay, from 146k SF to 115k SF in the same high-rise. Also, this May, the London-based firm took 6k SF at 255 Main St, Cambridge, in Boston Properties’ Kendall Center. Boston Properties also owns the John Hancock Tower. The move reflects EY’s consolidation of space. It also has the collaborative, tech-oriented qualities favored by Millennials, 65% of EY's workforce.


Longtime Back Bay icon The Society of Arts and Crafts will relo into 20k SF at 100 Pier 4 in the Seaport District, a new 369-apartment building. In a competitive process led by the BRA and Colorado-based developer UDR, the 118-year-old Boston arts institution was chosen to fill Pier 4’s cultural space. It will leave 175 Newbury St, a street it’s called home for 40 years.


Shorenstein Properties is planning a major overhaul of Center Plaza, a 720k SF mixed-use complex in a prime Government Center location. Tomorrow it’s opening a pop-up art gallery, Center Of It All. Shorenstein will transform Center Plaza’s lobby into an art gallery throughout summer 2015.


Brixmor Property Group, which operates 520 grocery-anchored community and neighborhood shopping centers nationwide, acquired the 50-year-old Webster Square shopping center in Marshfield, which was 98% leased. Cushman & Wakefield ‘s Rob Griffin, Geoffrey Millerd and Justin Smith repped the seller of the Star Market-anchored community shopping center, Curtis Management.    


On Aug. 17, Boston will get its first active transportation director, Stefanie Seskin. She’ll launch new initiatives to create people-friendly designs and programs that encourage healthy, active transportation options and lifestyles. She’s now deputy director of the National Complete Streets Coalition in DC. Her goal: make Boston even more walk- and bike-friendly.

By The Numbers

The Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency provided $1B for affordable housing serving 9,000 low and moderate income families in FY ’15, which ended June 30. It's the second-best lending year in the Agency's 49-year history. The record year was 2013, when it provided $1.66B, says Eric Gedstat.