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More lab space coming, this time at Suffolk Downs

The plans originally called for housing, but the developer wants to capitalize on the strong demand from life sciences companies.

An artist's rendering of the life sciences building that would be part of the massive Suffolk Downs redevelopment project in Revere.The HYM Investment Group

Greater Boston’s lab space boom is extending to Revere, where the developer of the massive Suffolk Downs project aims to start work this year on a nearly 400,000-square-foot life sciences building near the MBTA’s Beachmont Blue Line station.

HYM Investment Group told the Revere City Council this week that it plans to switch two blocks of the 161-acre complex to life sciences space instead of the residential buildings originally planned. HYM says it will build a five-story building with space for lab research and biomanufacturing, in a bid to capture a red-hot market for spaces where pharmaceutical companies can design new drugs and pump out prototypes under one roof.


“It’s a very high-end building that would include both the capability to create a product, and lab and office space,” said HYM Managing Partner Tom O’Brien. “It’s really an unmet need.”

It will come at the expense of two residential buildings that had been proposed, though O’Brien said they could be added back in later phases of the Suffolk Downs project, which is ultimately to include 5 million square feet of office space and 10,000 housing units across Revere and East Boston. HYM plans to start construction without a tenant — rare for traditional office buildings but more common in the fast-moving world of life science real estate — and aim to have it complete in 2023.

HYM had initially planned to frontload the first phase, around Beachmont, with housing as a way to draw residents who would, in turn, interest companies in moving there. But given the intense demand for life science space in Boston, the company rethought its plan, O’Brien said.

Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo has said he considers the project a great opportunity to bring commercial development, tax revenue, and jobs to the city. The switch to life science space does not require a City Council vote, but members Monday were supportive of the news.


“In 2018, we started this redevelopment project because we knew it would be transformative for the residents of Revere,” Arrigo said in a statement. “Three years later, with the inclusion of biotech and life science office space, Suffolk Downs and Revere continues moving forward as an incredibly powerful economic hub that will connect our city and our residents with a growing industry and more opportunity for advancement.”

HYM plans to start work this year on two other buildings as well, a 44,000 square-foot office building and a 465-unit residential building. Indeed, a majority of the project’s 1.7 million-square-foot first phase will still be housing, as will much of the larger portion of the project that sits in Boston, where city officials have viewed Suffolk Downs as a once-in-a-generation chance to tackle the city’s housing shortage on a large scale.

O’Brien agrees, even if the current market is geared toward lab space.

“We committed to building 10,000 units of housing at Suffolk Downs,” he said. “We will find ways to do that.”

Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him @bytimlogan.