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TALKING POINTS

Massive re-do of Somerville’s Union Square set to break ground

An artists rendering of planned 2.4-million-square-foot development in Somerville's Union Square.
An artists rendering of planned 2.4-million-square-foot development in Somerville's Union Square.US2

DEVELOPMENT

First phase of $2b project to break ground in Somerville’s Union Square

The first phase of a long-planned remaking of 15 acres in Union Square in Somerville is set to break ground Wednesday. Development group US2, Mayor Joe Curtatone, and others will celebrate the start of work at 10-50 Prospect Street, a three-building, 4-acre site at the corner of Prospect Street and Somerville Avenue. The project, which sits alongside the new MBTA Green Line station, will include 194,000 square feet of lab and innovation space, 450 apartments, and retail. In all the $2 billion Union Square project will eventually include 1.2 million square feet of lab and office space, 1,000 residential units, new parks and civic space and 140,000 square feet of storefronts. It’s expected to take around a decade to complete. — TIM LOGAN

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LIFE SCIENCES

San Francisco-based cancer research firm says it’ll open lab in the Seaport

Frontier Medicines, a South San Francisco biotech working on potential cancer treatments, is the latest life sciences firm that plans to set up shop in Boston’s bustling Seaport District. The startup said this week that it is establishing a research lab and offices in 18,000 square feet in a building on D Street. It’s their first Boston office and will house about 60 employees. Frontier disclosed the plans while announcing it had raised $88.5 million in venture capital to advance its pipeline of cancer drugs. Frontier is developing medicines for several forms of cancer, including non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal carcinoma, and a form of pancreatic cancer. The Boston neighborhood has become a magnet for US and foreign life science companies in recent years, including Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Servier Pharmaceuticals and Ginkgo Bioworks. — JONATHAN SALTZMAN

TECH

N-able completes spinoff, opens headquarters in Wakefield

N-able, a cloud-based software company which will be headquartered in Massachusetts, started trading on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday after formally spinning off from SolarWinds, the Texas-based software firm involved in a major cyber breach last year. N-able, which will be headquartered in Wakefield, will trade under the ticker symbol NABL. It employs 30 people here, and plans to hire more in the coming months, a company spokeswoman said. Founded in 2000 in Ottawa, Canada, and acquired by SolarWinds in 2013, N-able makes software for companies that provide computer services for small and medium-sized businesses. Spinning off from SolarWinds, the company said, will allow it to focus more of its resources towards capitalizing on growth opportunities in the market. In 2020, Russian hackers infiltrated SolarWinds software, allowing them to breach computers at agencies such as the Treasury department and the Pentagon. — PRANSHU VERMA

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COVID

Apple delays planned return to office, while Amazon ends COVID testing

Two of the world’s largest companies made news on the pandemic front, with each going in a decidedly different direction. According to internal sources, Apple is pushing back its return to office deadline by at least a month to October at the earliest, responding to a resurgence of COVID variants across many countries. The iPhone maker becomes one of the first US tech giants to delay plans for a return to normality. Apple will give its employees at least a month’s warning before mandating a return to offices, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing internal policy. Meanwhile, Amazon has decided to ditch its program of testing workers for COVID-19 at its warehouses at the end of this month, citing the availability of vaccines and free testing. The company began testing warehouse workers last year when tests were more difficult to secure. Warehouse workers, who were considered essential, packed and shipped orders throughout the pandemic. — GLOBE NEWS SERVICES

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VEHICLE SAFETY

Feds launch probe into semi-truck brakes

US highway safety regulators have opened an investigation into about a half-million semis with brakes that can catch fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents posted on its website Tuesday that it has 11 complaints about brakes made by Haldex Commercial Vehicle Systems, including seven fires. No injuries were reported. The complaints say problems occurred mostly on Kenworth and Peterbilt semis. The agency is investigating brakes from the 2015 through 2020 model years. NHTSA says the investigation covers certain Haldex Gold Seal brake chambers, which convert compressed air into a mechanical force that stops the trucks. It says a spring can fracture, puncturing a diaphragm and causing air loss. That can make the brakes drag without warning to the driver and eventually cause fires. An investigation can lead to a recall. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

BlackRock details push on climate issues, diversity

The world’s biggest asset manager offered some details on how it has elbowed into several corporate boardrooms, demanding action on climate change and workplace diversity. BlackRock Inc. said it increased four-fold its votes against board directors at companies including Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp. during the recent proxy season because they failed to act on climate issues. The New York-based asset manager rejected 255 directors in the period ended June 30, up from 55 a year earlier, according to a stewardship report released Tuesday. It also failed to support the management of 319 companies for climate-related reasons, compared with 53 in 2020. BlackRock said it voted against the reelection of 1,862 directors at 975 companies because of a lack of board diversity. Following the racial injustice protests last year, the investing behemoth said it may vote against directors at companies that aren’t diversifying their ranks. Overall, BlackRock said it supported 35 percent of 843 shareholder proposals that it voted on in the recent proxy season, compared with 17 percent in the previous year. Of those, it backed about two thirds of the environmental resolutions, and about a third of the social and governance proposals, according to the report. Last year, BlackRock said it supported 11 percent of the environmental proposals, 7 percent of the social resolutions, and 20 percent on governance. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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A THREE-HOUR TOUR

‘Bond king’ Gross pleads not guilty to harassing his neighbor with old sitcom theme songs

It’s about as delicious of a neighbor vs. neighbor spat as can be, at least for those peeking over the high security gates. And it’s not about to end soon. Bill Gross, the billionaire “bond king,” and his wife pleaded not guilty to charges they violated a court order to stop bothering their Southern California neighbor with loud music, including ear-piercing recordings of the theme to “Gilligan’s Island.” Escalating a fight with the couple who live next door on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, a lawyer for Bill and Amy Gross told a California state judge Tuesday they intend to prove they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court seven months after she ordered them to stop playing sitcom theme songs and other loud music when they aren’t outdoors. Gross and Mark Towfiq, a millionaire, both have trophy oceanfront homes in Laguna Beach. But they have feuded since Towfiq complained about netting over a million-dollar piece of art in Gross’s yard. According to Towfiq, the Pimco co-founder responded by blaring TV sitcom themes at all hours of the day. After a trial that featured nine days of testimony, Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill ruled that what Gross did amounted to harassment. She ordered him to stop playing loud music in his yard when he or his wife weren’t outside and to keep at least five yards away from their neighbors. The judge set a Sept. 13 hearing to take witness testimony on the latest chapter. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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