As the economy was still foundering in 2011, developer Skanska USA launched what in most parts of the country would have been a kamikaze mission: constructing a $70 million laboratory and office building without a single tenant to fall back on.
But on Monday, the company confirmed that its newly finished building at 150 Second St. near Kendall Square has attracted one of the rising stars of the local biotech community: Foundation Medicine Inc. has agreed to lease half the 123,000-square-foot building to help expand its research into cures for cancer.
“We’re ecstatic to have them anchor our building,” said Shawn Hurley, Skanska’s regional manager in Boston. “This is what we’ve been working on for the last year and a half.”
Skanska’s speculative development project, while risky on its face, coincided with a time of rapid drug discovery in East Cambridge that has fueled tremendous expansion by biotechnology companies.
Foundation Medicine, a pioneer in using genomic data to treat cancer, will nearly triple its real estate footprint by moving in to 150 Second St. — expected sometime this fall.
‘We’re ecstatic to have them anchor our building.’
The company, whose investors include Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, has captured the attention of industry leaders by outlining what it sees as a multibilllion-dollar market opportunity to use genetic analysis to help doctors pinpoint the best treatments for individual cancer patients.
It currently has about 100 employees, but executives said the company expects to add to its workforce. For its lease at 150 Second St., Foundation Medicine was represented by Richards Barry Joyce & Partners, while Skanska was represented by Jones Lang LaSalle.
Skanska still must find another tenant. But Hurley said the company is not worried given the strength of the market in East Cambridge, where companies from Pfizer Inc. to Biogen Idec to Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. are building new facilities to accommodate their growth. “The market dynamics in East Cambridge are really strong right now,” he said, adding that Skanska would like to develop additional buildings in the neighborhood. “Land is hard to come by, but we’re looking at every opportunity we can.”
Skanska, a Swedish company that launched its US commercial development business in late 2008, also has several projects underway in Boston.
In the South Boston Innovation District, the company is planning a 455,000-square-foot office building at Seaport Boulevard and Boston Wharf Road, along with a 300-unit apartment and retail complex across the street. It wants to build another large apartment complex in the Fenway at the site of a current Burger King on Boylston Street.