Even though a big tech company, formerly named Facebook, now plans to focus on building the “metaverse” — it still needs more office space for the in-person-verse.
Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, signed a lease Wednesday for nearly 300,000 square feet of office space at 50 Binney St., which will roughly triple its footprint in Cambridge. The Globe first reported news of the expansion in July.
The company, which employees more than 500 people in Cambridge, said it expects to begin fitting out the space early next year. It aims to move in in late 2023.
“This significant investment in space will support Meta’s efforts to scale our tech and engineering teams,” said Facebook spokeswoman Jamila Reeves, adding that the local team will play a key role in building “products and services to support the metaverse.”
With another office across the street at 100 Binney St., Meta now has more than 400,000 square feet of office space in Kendall Square. Facebook also has an office at One Broadway, the first space it occupied when it established a presence in Cambridge in 2013.
The space has traded hands several times since the building opened less than five years ago, reflecting the fast-moving real estate market in Kendall Square, where available space is scarce and pricey. It was first leased to Sanofi Genzyme, which bases its Cambridge operations in the complex. But in 2019, after Sanofi announced a move to two buildings in nearby Cambridge Crossing, they subleased the space for $99.95 per square foot to Bluebird Bio, which rented next door and wanted room to grow.
The gene therapy biotech, located at 60 Binney St., never actually moved in and announced in November that it planned to move most of its employees to a lab complex under construction in Somerville’s Assembly Row in spring 2022.
Now, the space will be filled by Meta. Terms of their lease were not available.
Amid all this, the building itself has soared in value, as evidenced by a deal earlier in December when developer Alexandria Real Estate Equities sold a large stake in the property to investors at a price valuing the building at $1.2 billion. That equates to $2,253 per square foot.
Edward Maher, a vice chairman at real estate firm Newmark who helped broker the deal, said in a press release that the property “is a first-class asset in the life science epicenter of the world.”
“This transaction speaks to the strength of the Cambridge market and its continued appeal for tenants and owners alike,” he said.
The desire of tech giants to have a larger physical footprint in the region — even as their employees continue to work from home — is a sign that companies still value in-person collaboration and proximity to institutions like Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Meta plans to fully reopen its offices in the US at the end of January, but it will allow employees to continue working from home until at least June.