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REAL ESTATE

Housing stock in Greater Boston doesn’t keep up with job growth

By historical standards, Greater Boston has added a lot of housing in the last few years. But it is adding even more jobs. And that’s a key reason why living here keeps getting more expensive. So says a report released Thursday by the real estate website Apartment List, which found that since 2008 the region has added 2½ times as many jobs as it has housing units — an imbalance that’s greater only by the San Francisco Bay Area among large metro areas nationwide. Since the 2008 recession, Greater Boston’s economy has added about 275,000 jobs, many of them in well-paid industries like technology and life sciences. At the same time, it has added 108,000 apartments and condos, mostly in Boston and a handful of nearby municipalities. That ratio — about 2.5 new jobs for every new home — isn’t enough to keep up with job growth, said Salviati, who added that a healthier ratio is one or two jobs for every new home. It’s Economics 101, he said: “This really just comes down to supply and demand. If those two things are out of whack, prices go up. And that’s what you’re seeing in Boston.” Indeed, home prices in the state hit record highs in June, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. The median price for both single-family homes and condominiums in Greater Boston now tops $600,000. Apartment rents have climbed steadily, too, fueled by waves of twentysomethings who stay in or move to Boston for work. — TIM LOGAN

STARTUPS

N.Y. company that mines health care data moving to Boston

A New York-based startup that mines health care data to determine what cancer medicine would work best for a particular patient — and be most cost effective — is moving its headquarters to Boston. COTA, which was founded in 2011 by doctors, engineers, and data scientists, next week plans to open at 101 Arch St., in Downtown Crossing. The firm has 70 employees and expects to ultimately move most of them to Boston, according to its CEO, Michael Doyle. With more hiring planned, he predicted the Boston head count will exceed 100 by the end of next year. The privately held company will retain a small office with about 20 employees in Manhattan. “Our ability to attract and retain folks in New York is limited compared to Boston,” said Doyle, a 1980 graduate of Tufts University who has homes in the Back Bay and on Cape Cod. “The talent pool in Boston is much larger for the life sciences and for computer science.” It’s also less expensive to live in Boston than in New York, he said, although no one would say the former is cheap. — JONATHAN SALTZMAN

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PHARMACY SERVICES

Shields Health Solutions sells equity stakes to investment firm, Walgreens

At the end of 2011, Jack Shields stepped down as president of his family’s successful business, which runs Shields MRI, to pursue a new venture: providing specialty pharmacy services to health networks. It was a risky move, but it paid off, with Shields Health Solutions growing to 500 employees and about $500 million in revenue. Shields is now getting some help to take the Stoughton company to the next level, announcing Wednesday that he will sell equity stakes to investment firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe and drugstore giant Walgreens Co. Shields said in an interview that he plans to use most of the new capital to expand, with the workforce expected to double in a year, but he and other existing investors will get a payout. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the investment, for about half the company, is valued at between $850 million and $900 million, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. Shields and his management team plan to stay in place after the transaction is completed in the current fiscal quarter. Shields Health Solutions, based in Stoughton, has established onsite pharmacy programs at more than 35 health networks with some 250 hospitals across the country, including UMass Memorial Medical Center and New York Presbyterian. The pharmacies, which are owned by the hospital systems, focus on specialties such as oncology, neurology, rheumatology, and diabetes. — LARRY EDELMAN

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DEVELOPMENT

New owners of former GE site want to start building early next year

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The new owner of the one-time future site of General Electric’s world headquarters appears to be wasting little time turning it into something new. Executives at Alexandria Real Estate Equities say that they aim to break ground in early 2020 on a large development on the site along Fort Point Channel that the company and a partner bought from GE in May for $252 million. Speaking to analysts on an earnings call, Alexandria co-CEO Peter Moglia said the firm — a major Kendall Square developer that’s now moving aggressively into Fort Point and the West Broadway section of Southie — envisions a “world-class life science” development on the site. A second phase of development would eventually take place on the site of a parking garage Alexandria also owns across Necco Street. The GE site has been dormant for almost three years, ever since the troubled company won city approvals for a 12-story, 293,000-square-foot office building that would — along with two older brick buildings next door — have served as its headquarters, complete with a prominent sign over Fort Point Channel. Rehab of the brick buildings is almost complete, and GE plans to move in later this year. But it never launched work on the new building, amid a massive corporate restructuring, and in February put the already-permitted site up for sale. Alexandria and Newton-based National Development won a fierce bidding contest for the property, which means it will be GE’s landlord in the two brick buildings while pursuing a new building of its own on the parking lot next door. — TIM LOGAN

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DEVELOPMENT

Student housing builder buys storefronts in Davis Square

Big changes could be coming to the heart of Somerville’s Davis Square. Student housing developer Scape has acquired a string of storefronts on Elm Street that are home to several longstanding neighborhood institutions. The British firm, which builds privately run dorms, last month paid nearly $10 million for buildings that house Irish pub The Burren, McKinnon’s Market, the Sligo Pub, and several restaurants, according to a long-term lease filed in Middlesex County earlier this month. Executives with Scape wouldn’t say what they have planned, but the firm specializes in building privately run student housing that is independent of any particular school. It’s done projects in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia, and has proposed a 15-story building on Boylston Street in the Fenway as its first venture in the United States. Should Scape propose something even half the size of its Fenway project on the eight-tenths-of-an-acre site on Elm Street, it would be the largest development in Davis Square in recent years. Rents in the neighborhood have escalated, thanks in part to an influx of graduate students and young professionals. But it has retained some of its low-key vibe and longstanding local businesses, even as other student-centric areas such as Harvard Square have changed dramatically in recent years. — TIM LOGAN

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