A Kendall Square company that builds life-sciences labs has an agreement to buy an existing office building at 1000 Washington St. and a second office building under construction next door at 321 Harrison Ave., across from the Ink Block in the South End, and is seeking BPDA approval to convert the eight new floors of space for use as life-sciences labs.
In a "notice of project change" filed today, BioMed Realty writes that it:
[P]lans to lease space to one or multiple tenants likely to be engaged in a variety of life sciences sub-uses similar to the majority of lab/research and development buildings in Boston and Cambridge. In addition to standard office and so-called 'dry research' activities, such sub-uses typically include chemistry, biology, bioinformatics, and sequencing activities and may sometimes include accessory radiology or vivarium research. Each tenant will conduct its specific life science use in a space uniquely built out to safely operate such use. Additionally, each tenant will be required to operate its premises in accordance with health and safety regulations of the State Building Code, the National Institutes of Health, and other local, state, and federal agencies, as may be applicable to such tenant's use.
The eight floors of new construction, which sits above an existing three-floor garage, would be designed to let researchers work with both organisms not generally considered harmful to people and which could be used in experiments on an open lab bench and with organisms that "pose moderate hazards to laboratorians and the environment" such as certain staph bacteria. However, microorganisms that could cause deadly infections should they escape would not be allowed, unlike at the Boston University Biolab on Albany Street, which maintains far stricter safety measures.
The proposed change is the latest in a series of requests to the BPDA from developers seeking to switch projects from office or even residential space to lab space, as financing becomes more difficult for commercial projects in a pandemic age when so many people now work at home and in a city that is home to world leaders and universities that work on developing the sorts of therapeutic agents needed to fight various diseases.
On Harrison Avenue, BioMed says it would keep the basic look of the original design of the building, as proposed by the original developers Nordblom and CIM, but that it is seeking approval for "an additional enclosed penthouse space on the roof and a new roof screen" for the extra "air handling units, energy recovery units and exhaust fans, cooling towers and chillers [and] electrical generators" biotech lab spaces would need, as compared to offices.
BioMed says it expects the basic shell of the building to be finished by the end of March and ground-floor retail space by September. With BPDA approval, work would begin on outfitting the building and roof for lab use in June.
321 Harrison Ave. notice of project change (6.9M PDF).