This blog post was submitted by Allyson Quinby, Account Executive at Solomon McCown & Company.
NAIOP Massachusetts’ “Cambridge: Ready, Set, Go!” breakfast event on February 15 featured a well-versed panel of real estate executives who spoke on “What’s new and what’s next for this hot market.” Mary Lentz, McCall & Almy, moderated the expert panel that included Tom Andrews, Alexandria Real Estate Equities; Michael Cantalupa, Boston Properties; Shawn Hurley, Skanska USA Commercial Development; Steven Marsh, MIT Investment Management Company; and Thomas O’Brien, The HYM Investment Group.
Marsh noted how the world is changing every day, and that the U.S. along with many other superpowers such as China and India, continues to look for new ways to compete. For example, the U.S. aggressively leads the way when it comes to innovation, and as Marsh discussed, Cambridge has long been the epicenter of innovation productivity.
Due to Vertex’s move to Boston’s Seaport district, many in the real estate industry worry that the Cambridge market no longer holds the same stature it once did. However, NAIOP’s expert panelists assured us that we are in a natural state in Cambridge, and as stated by Cantalupa, “If you can afford to be next to MIT, you will be.” The lab market is steady, and many developers like Skanska USA Commercial Development are currently taking time to re-evaluate outdated space to create real estate opportunities that will fit all types of tenant needs in the future.
Home to two of the finest institutions of higher education in the world, Harvard and MIT, the panelists argued that Cambridge has gained and will maintain a prominent reputation. Companies in the life-sciences, technology, bio-pharmacology, education and innovation sectors, along with many startups, have found their homes in Cambridge. Due to the competitive advantage that comes with a Cambridge address, real estate firms have experienced a tremendous amount of success leasing space in this market. As the panelists noted, there is still an active demand and we continue to see new development activity in this market today.
Marsh and Andrews also spoke about the importance of proximity for lab space to MIT and other academic buildings. It is crucial that all facilities continue to collaborate, creating an environment that fosters innovation. Hurley also noted how mixed-use space needs to continue to be developed; it is important that we connect lab to retail and public spaces.
O’Brien discussed the next generation workforce and the need to build corporate and residential spaces that attract young professionals. His firm is developing the NorthPoint neighborhood, a mixed-use campus with flexibility – one that allows people to live and work in the same place.
Cantalupa and Hurley spoke on how real estate developers need to build flexible buildings that can adjust to market demands. Hurley noted how Skanska’s plan behind 150 Second Street was to deliver a Class-A, highly flexible property with a sustainable design that had features all tenants could enjoy. The building was also designed to accommodate either one or multiple tenants.
As stated by Marsh (and I agree), “Cambridge is special – it goes well beyond real estate” – and it is here that we want to continue the innovation story.
Note from NAIOP: Learn more about the dynamic Cambridge market by attending our 10th Anniversary Bus Tour, Big & Breaking in Greater Boston. Cambridge, along with Fenway, Longwood, Boston’s Seaport and Allston will be featured during this fast-paced and informative live market update bus tour.