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Broad Institute Eyes Site Near Cambridge, Mass., HQ with Possible Consolidation in Mind

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Broad Institute is looking to expand near its headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., whose City Council is studying a zoning change that would create additional laboratory and office space for the growing research institution.

The institute wants to move into a 300,000-square-foot commercial development being planned by the institute's landlord, Boston Properties, for a surface parking lot adjacent to the Broad's headquarters at 7 Cambridge Center. Boston Properties completed that building and 10 others that comprise the 24-acre, 2.7 million-square-foot Cambridge Center mixed-use complex.

The project site under review is at Ames Street between Main Street and Broadway, next to the West Garage of Cambridge Center, where the Broad occupies space in two buildings among the institute's three — soon to be four — facilities in the city.

"We're interested in the space because expanding there could allow us to consolidate our operations in one location," Nicole Davis, a spokeswoman for the institute, told GenomeWeb Daily News today. "It is worth noting that this is just a first step. There are no guarantees it will ultimately come to pass."

If the single-building consolidation doesn't happen, Davis added, "there are some other options that we can explore." The institute will not elaborate on those.

Boston Properties has asked the Cambridge City Council to rezone the site, located near Kendall Square, by allowing within Cambridge Center an additional 300,000 square feet of office and "biotechnology manufacturing" uses, raising the total to 1.6 million square feet. The site is now zoned for up to 200,000 square feet of housing. The city's Planning Board has recommended approval of the rezoning and the institute's expansion plan, which enjoys support from the city Community Development Department and several elected officials.

The City Council s expected to resume discussion of the rezoning on Monday, following a full council meeting and two meetings of its Ordinance Committee that took place this past week.

"Vice Mayor [Henrietta] Davis said that the city is very anxious to accommodate the Broad," while "Councillor [Leland] Cheung said that members of the City Council are all very aware of the value that the Broad brings to Cambridge," according to minutes of the Ordinance Committee's May 11 meeting posted online.

At the same time, Cheung, Davis and other officials said Boston Properties needed to work with the city to find an alternative location for the housing previously planned for the project site. The developer is considering three alternative locations, according to the minutes.

Cheung also asked that the council consider requiring an additional non-binding review of the Broad's expansion plans by the planning board; persuading the institute and Boston Properties to build as part of the project an incubator with "low-cost" laboratory space, and discussing whether ground-floor retail space for "a grocery store, convenience store, or small foodstuffs boutique" should be added to the project. Mayor David Maher blocked the formal request.

In addition to its Cambridge Center headquarters building, a seven-story lab building completed by the Broad in 2006, the institute has laboratories and offices at 5 Cambridge Center, and at 320 Charles St.

Later this month, the Broad will begin moving into a fourth Cambridge building, 301 Binney St. Groups relocating to that building include the institute's Genetic Analysis and Biological Samples Platforms, as well as the groups that analyze the data flowing from our various genome-related platforms, Davis said.

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