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Broad Institute Gets City Council Approval for New Building

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Broad Institute will consolidate some of its Cambridge, Mass., facilities into a single new building to rise as part of a mixed-use project approved near Kendall Square by the City Council on Monday evening.

The new 300,000-square-foot building will allow the institute to consolidate a portion of its activity on Ames Street, next to its headquarters. The Broad now occupies space at 7 Cambridge Center and three other buildings in Cambridge — its newest location at 301 Binney St., which it began occupying in June; as well as 5 Cambridge Center; and 320 Charles St.

The Broad would need the new building by 2014, when its lease at 320 Charles St. ends. Just which operations would be based there, and which at the headquarters, is impossible to say this far in advance of the move, an institute spokesman told GenomeWeb Daily News.

"That said, there will undoubtedly be additional core faculty lab space in the new building, as well as it being the home of several of our scientific platforms, i.e., the groups of scientists with specific technological expertise and capabilities," Broad spokesman Fintan Steele said.

Steele said the Broad views the need for space consolidation as an issue going beyond convenience.

"The nature of the work here, which requires different types of expertise and resources around critical projects, is more effective with the daily personal interactions of the different scientists contributing to the success of the various projects. This is critically important to Broad's success and to the scientists who work here, and is the primary driver of our interest," Steele said.

The new building will be allowed under a rezoning for the district approved by the council at the request of Boston Properties, which completed the Broads's headquarters building and 10 others that comprise the 24-acre, approximately 2.7 million-square-foot Cambridge Center mixed-use complex.

The rezoning allows 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 was previously zoned for up to 200,000 square feet of housing that was never built.

The zoning approvals came after Boston Properties offered commitments that include the creation of a 20,000-square-foot incubator for early-stage life sciences and other technology companies. The incubator would offer leases of between 250 and 7,500 square feet "with flexible lease terms (e.g., shorter duration, lower credit requirements) consistent with reasonable market leasing practices," according to a letter from the developer to the City Council.

"It is intended that such incubator space will attract young and entrepreneurial businesses to the Kendall Square area in the beginning stages of their development, and hopefully facilitate their success and growth within the city," Boston Properties wrote.

Asked what role the Broad Institute would play in filling or operating the incubator, Steele told GWDN that remained to be seen, "though we would certainly consider a role if it makes sense for everyone involved."

In the letter, Boston Properties also offered to give a total $400,000 to two scholarship funds; give another $250,000 toward the cost of future neighborhood planning studies; and build "all or any portion of the 200,000 square feet" of previously-approved housing elsewhere in the district within seven years of construction starting on the Broad Institute building. If the housing is not built during that time, Boston Properties would pay the city $2.5 million over seven years.

The council vote followed a recommendation in favor of the rezoning by the city's Planning Board, as well as support for the new Broad Institute building from the city Community Development Department and several elected officials.

Addressing the Ordinance Committee on June 9, Alan Fein, the Broad's deputy director and chief operating officer, said the new building will help the institute address its need to accommodate a total 1,500 employees and research collaboration partners at its facilities, according to minutes of the meeting posted online.

"Not only would a new building give us space to deal with those end-of-lease issues, but would support the daily interactions of scientists across disciplines, which is the primary factor behind the success of the Broad to date," Steele said.

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