The seventh floor of 101 Seaport Blvd. is empty right now, but it gets a fair bit of foot traffic — from people coming to look at the hole in the ground next door.
Skanska USA is under construction on the only so-called “spec” office building going up in Boston right now, its 450,000-square foot tower at 121 Seaport. And while they don’t have an anchor tenant lined up yet, they’re getting a lot of lookers.
“We get a shot at every major tenant in the market,” said Shawn Hurley, who runs Skanska’s Boston operations. “Everyone’s coming to take a look.”
Despite Boston’s development boom, big chunks of office space are scarce right now. As of Oct. 1, there were 17 tenants looking for 50,000 square feet or more of top-end office space in downtown Boston, according to real estate firm JLL, and just 11 blocks big enough to house them.
That means buildings with room are drawing interest. Three would-be tenants have proposed leasing all 180,000 square feet that Boston Properties has at 120 St. James, in the base of the old John Hancock Tower, president Douglas Linde told analysts recently. The space PWC left behind for the Seaport, at 125 High Street, also went quick. And Goodwin Procter’s soon-to-be-former home at 53 State has seen strong interest.
But none of them can offer quite what Skanska is: Brand-new space with all the bells and whistles. It just doesn’t exist yet.
So Skanska’s marketing team has set up shop on the empty seventh floor in its new building next door, with carpet over cement floor and a folding chair with tables. There are big posters with images and details of the new tower. The views are comparable, to be supplemented with drone shots once the permitting works out. And there’s that view down into the hole, where work began over the summer and is set to be complete by early 2018.
Hurley and Charlie Leatherbee, who’s taking over Skanska’s Boston operation in January when Hurley moves up to a national job for the big developer, wouldn’t say who’s been through to take a look. Nor would they say how close they are to signing an anchor tenant. But they sound optimistic. PWC took most of the space in 101 Seaport sight unseen, Leatherbee noted. The place just opened and about all that’s left is the empty seventh floor.
“I think that speaks a lot to the broader fundamentals here,” he said.