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Listen up: Decibel Therapeutics is moving to the Fenway

Biotech is spilling into the Fenway.

Year-old startup Decibel Therapeutics Inc. plans to open a headquarters with lab space early next year in the Van Ness project at 1325 Boylston St., becoming the first biotech company to put down roots in the bustling neighborhood behind Fenway Park.

Decibel, launched in Cambridge last year by Third Rock Ventures, is developing medicines to treat hearing loss, a condition affecting an estimated 50 million people in the United States and 360 million globally. The company will lease 32,000 square feet of space on the fifth floor of one of the two buildings in Van Ness, and have room for up to 100 employees.


Chief executive Steven Holtzman, a veteran of Boston area biotechs such as Biogen Inc. and Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., said Decibel expects to have 40 to 50 employees by the end of 2016. It plans to occupy its new space in the first quarter of 2017 and double its staff by the end of next year, he said.

“The location is in the hub of what’s happening in the Fenway, and it’s accessible to downtown and the Longwood Medical Area,” Holtzman said in an interview. “It’s an area of explosive growth and innovation, and we’re happy to be the pioneer.”

Decibel passed over more established industry clusters in Cambridge, Route 128, and the South Boston Waterfront, but Holtzman said he expects other biotechs will join the company in the Fenway as the business community there expands.

“I would be surprised if we don’t have biotech brethren there in the next couple of years,” he said. “I’m always struck by how some people think you have to be within a few hundred yards of Kendall Square to succeed.”

The area was a hotbed of music clubs and culture in the 1970s and 1980s, said Holtzman, and commercial real estate developers such as Samuels & Associates, which developed Van Ness, are working to create a new mix of work, living, and cultural space there.


Holtzman said Decibel expects to collaborate with researchers in the Longwood area, which houses several large biomedical labs, and with the nearby Berklee College of Music, where he sits on the board. The hearing of musicians and music fans who’ve attended too many loud concerts will be one focus of the company.

Decibel, which has been working in temporary space in the Athenaeum building at 215 First St. in Cambridge, raised $52 million last fall from a Third Rock-led investors group.

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.