Part of the old Boston Globe building is set to get a dramatic upgrade as a swanky food hall and hangout space, the centerpiece of an overhaul of the newspaper’s former headquarters in Dorchester into a hub of creative and tech offices.
That’s the vision the development firm Nordblom shared when it filed detailed plans Tuesday to redevelop the massive complex on Morrissey Boulevard. The company wants to repurpose the nearly 700,000-square-foot building as a “multi-tenant innovation park,” aimed at companies that want to be close to the core of the city but don’t want to pay downtown rents.
Ultimately, the developer envisions a mix of companies big and small, and thousands of jobs, in a building that has sat empty since the Globe moved downtown last year.
“It was once a place where 2,000 or 3,000 people went to work every day,” said Todd Fremont-Smith, senior vice president at Nordblom, which bought the building from the Globe in December for $81 million. “It could be again.”
The firm would gut the inside, replacing warrens of hallways with big, open spaces aimed at large tenants. The former printing press area would become a food hall, and perhaps a co-working space. They’re talking with craft breweries about opening a tap room.
By renovating the existing building, instead of knocking it down and replacing it with something new, Nordblom hopes to save costs and move fast enough to capitalize on an office market that is straining to meet demand for large blocks of space from companies eager to be near transit in Boston. It aims to complete city permitting by summer and open the building in mid-2019.
“When tenants get too big for Kendall Square or are priced out of Back Bay, there’s really nowhere for them to go. They have to go the suburbs,” Fremont-Smith said. “We’re trying to provide an alternative.”
While Nordblom plans to reduce overall parking on the site — which includes a large surface parking lot — it doesn’t plan any new buildings. Nor does it plan to build housing.
A 2011 master plan for the area envisioned the Globe site as eventually including a number of apartment buildings. But Fremont-Smith said the site makes more sense today as an office campus.