Renowned Cambridge-based research center The Broad Institute is expanding to Burlington, joining the future headquarters of biopharma company Vericel Corp. at a newly constructed lab at the Network Drive campus off Route 3.
The Broad Institute this week said it will lease 145,705 square feet of lab, research and development, and office space at 27 Network Drive. The academic health research organization, formed in 2004 through a partnership between MIT and Harvard, will keep its headquarters in Kendall Square.
“In Burlington we are building an advanced, custom facility from the ground-up to allow the Broad Institute Genomics Platform to innovate, evolve, and advance the understanding and treatment of human disease through our cutting-edge science and technology,” said Stacey Gabriel, chief genomics officer of the Broad Institute, in a statement.
The Broad Institute and Vericel should occupy their new Burlington space by 2024.
The 25/27 Network Drive site was initially approved for an office, but developer Nordblom Co. rezoned the property for lab use last year. Construction is underway on the 270,000-square-foot building, which will cost around $200 million to develop.
Nordblom last year tapped architecture firm SGA to design the new property, aiming to capture a biotech tenant base that has rapidly been expanding out to the Greater Boston suburbs. There was little demand for a new suburban office building — but lots of interest in lab space, said Todd Fremont-Smith, senior vice president of development for Nordblom.
“No one wanted the office building, but the lab building went quickly,” Fremont-Smith said.
The town of Burlington has taken big steps to attract life-science tenants, including allowing sites to rezone for as-of-right lab use, and landed a platinum rating from the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council as a community ready to house life-science companies. Biotech companies including Moderna Therapeutics and MilliporeSigma both have a presence in the town, and attracting a research institute as respected as The Broad further validates the town’s life-science market, Fremont-Smith said.
“It’s like a ‘holy cow’ moment,” he said. “You’re either a lab market or you’re not, and the Broad deal puts an exclamation point on Burlington as a lab market. You’ll see more deals happening here.”
To that end, Nordblom is planning to convert some of its Burlington office space to lab use, said Patrick O’Neill, the company’s vice president of real estate management. The first planned conversion is 95 Network Drive, a 155,000-square-foot office, which Nordblom hopes to get under construction this summer.
“As those opportunities play out, then we’re going to have the next one behind it,” O’Neill said.