XMBLY | 5 Middlesex Avenue | Assembly SQ | Somerville

tysmith95

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A four phase 1.9 million square foot development is being planned across from Assembly Row in East Somerville. Construction of phase one is expected to commence in spring 2017. The developer is RD Management and not FRIT (the developer of the rest of Assembly Row and the adjacent strip mall). Up until a few years ago this site had a movie theatre. Currently it holds one small office building on the corner of the site that will be retained.

Phase 1 (Block 21): Five-story mixed-use building containing a 188-room hotel, 147 residential units and ground-floor retail facing public open space at the center of the site. Phase 1 would also construct 233 surface and subsurface parking spaces.
Phase 2 (Block 22): 20-story tower containing 14 stories and 480,000 square feet of Class A office/lab space above a six-story podium. The podium would contain two levels and 31,000 square feet of retail underneath four parking levels with 541 spaces.
Phase 3 (Block 23): Two 19-story, 1 million square foot office towers connected by a link. These towers would also sit above a retail and parking podium.
Phase 4 (Block 25): Five-story mixed-use building containing 72 residential units, 16,000 square feet of retail and a 100-car parking garage
http://www.bldup.com/projects/5-middlesex-avenue






http://www.bankerandtradesman.com/2016/10/1-9m-sf-assembly-square-development-plans-detailed/
 
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BostonUrbEx

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Yes, yes, YES! BUILD! That blank wall along Middlesex Ave looks horrendous, though. Also not a fan of the surface lot between Block 24 and Block 25, but it is pretty small.

What are the chances of punching pedestrian access through I-93? Revolution Dr is the ideal place for a single punch through to East Somerville, but the geometry doesn't match up very well. The ramps on the southwest side of the highway are below highway level, thus any tunnel not matching up with the street on that side.
 

choo

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I'm glad to see this and am pleasantly surprised by the relative lack of parking for a development of this size. ~750 spaces for that whole set of hotel, office and residential seems pretty low relative to its size.
 

tysmith95

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Yes, yes, YES! BUILD! That blank wall along Middlesex Ave looks horrendous, though. Also not a fan of the surface lot between Block 24 and Block 25, but it is pretty small.
I'd assume that the blank wall is part of the parking garage but i'm not sure. However anything is better than the surface parking lots that sit there now. I understand that they would avoid putting retail on Middlesex Ave as that frontage faces a storage facility and an elevated highway.
 
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JumboBuc

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When this project first came up last summer, the City sounded a bit skeptical. I consider that a good thing, as Somerville has shown that it will support considerable development in Assembly as long as the developer gets it right. It would be improper for the City to not grant R.D. Management the same latitude that it has granted Federal Realty Trust. From the B&T article tysmith linked above, the developer "has met with Somerville land-use officials and Mayor Joseph Curtatone" but "has not submitted its plans for local approval yet".

Also from B&T, the developer "says it's contracted with an unnamed hotel developer [previous articles name Marriot] that is ready to begin design and construction of the 5-story hotel" in "Block 21". This phase will also include a 15-story apartment building in the same block (it's just peaking out behind the foreground lab building in the render).

I'd be shocked if Phases II - IV happen in this cycle (774k sf lab/office in "Block 22", 1 million sf office in "Block 23", 72-unit apartment in "Block 25"), but maybe the first phase has a chance?

Architect is Spagnolo Gisness & Associates, who was also the architect for Assembly Row.

It's interesting that the renders have been tweaked slightly, but not significantly, since August 2015.

August 2015:



October 2016:



Looks like the two apartment buildings at "Block 21" and "Block 25" have been added and the street between "Block 21" and "Block 23" has been straightened.

Also interesting to note that Assembly Row Block 9 is triangular and reaches all the way to the Revolution Drive intersection, but in these renders it's depicted as a shorter rectangle. Perhaps some land-swapping would be necessary to make this work? RD would get more Grand Union frontage and Federal would get a wider floor plate for Block 9?

EDIT: More renders from the architect's website, appearing to be from the earlier August 2015 vintage:



 
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whighlander

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WoW -- I think this could be what really transforms Somerville

For one there is a lot of it and for two there is a lot of it

However a couple of quibbles:

1) it should have had one tower do some more towering -- say the height of the Pierce

2) why would anyone rent the lab space in Somerville?
Somerville is not Waltham or Lexington or even Burlington or Woburn -- there is no street cred as to why a "lab company" would more or expand to Sommerville.
Hope that they've already got a commitment from Partners or Tufts to rent some of the lab space as a catalyst - - otherwise.....
 

F-Line to Dudley

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2) why would anyone rent the lab space in Somerville?
Somerville is not Waltham or Lexington or even Burlington or Woburn -- there is no street cred as to why a "lab company" would more or expand to Sommerville.
Hope that they've already got a commitment from Partners or Tufts to rent some of the lab space as a catalyst - - otherwise.....
I would assume that's just wishful thinking on their part for the conceptual plan. Anything they build here is ultimately going to be build-to-suit based on what the market will bear for anchor tenants. And that's much more likely to be an office HQ in keeping with Assembly's established tenant profile rather than techy space. It is an ideally-located place for packing bodies into an office building with all the other workday-serving amenities and the transportation convenience. Not going to get nearly the people density with a lab space, so there's going to be some further economic calculation involved on what best gooses the utilization of all the density-dependent eateries and other amenities onsite.
 

odurandina

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i wuz thinking the same about the height. Our height to sq ft ratio sucks. Why does every project seek to use every last bit of the land right away while closing off any future improvement/s? We've been stuck in this 10-15 story office park sickness since 1958... We've reached the point where we should be conserving land and building like Vancouver. But it seems it's politically incorrect for planners to admit this fact. 2M sq ft should have a 380-425' crown (hell, go all the way to 500'), and allow the replacement of any of the low cubes, later.
 

whighlander

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i wuz thinking the same about the height. Our height to sq ft ratio sucks. Why does every project seek to use every square foot of the land right away with no reference to future planning of density? We've been stuck in this office park mentality since 1958, when we've reached the point where we should be conserving land and building like Vancouver. 2M sq ft should have a 380-500' crown, and allow for replacing any of the low cubes, later.
Odurandia -- more importantly there is a BUBBLE Developing in the magic phrase "Lab Space"

What do the following have in common?
  • Kendall -- Binney St.
  • Western-Harvard
  • Boston Flower Exchange
  • Assembly

Answer they all have under construction or have plans for M+ sq ft "lab space"

Meanwhile someone is converting 400k sq ft on Rt-128 @ the Lex / Waltham border -- the former USPS

For those of you who were following Boston Area development back 2 decades ago -- there was a Development known as Telecom City [Malden River -- now the 'Rivers Edge"] and another Boston Giga PoP [Lincoln St next to the Pike] -- these were some of the first symptoms of what eventually became the Dotcom / Telecom Tech Bubble Collapse

In the summer of 2000 people were predicting the need for over 10 M sq. ft. of specialized space [known as Telecom or Internet Hotels] to house all the gazillions of dotcoms that would take over the world -- didn't quite happen

interestingly the buildings with their high ceilings and heavy floor loading got repurposed in this boom as Lab Space

Is this the beginning of a "Bio/Lab" Real Estate Bubble?
 

odurandina

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Yes. Absolutely.

Less offices above!! More condo's above - and Tall very TALL!!
 

SeamusMcFly

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Bubble or not is debatable, but you leave out a lot of proposed lab space at Northpoint, that isn't very far from this location. Perhaps an attempt to have it tied to the nexus in that way (Kendall obviously being that nexus.)

However, I would easily place this location above Waltham, Lexington, Woburn, or Burlington for two simple reasons. Actual proximity to Cambridge & Boston (as in you CAN get there from here), and that shiny new orange line stop right across the street.

Real mass transit and real city access. Not too mention, while Somerville may not have some street cred you speak of, many of the folks who work in Kendall.... live in Somerville.

Now, doesn't mean those assumptions will pan out, but if you can build like Kendall (which you can't do in Waltham) at a decently lower price point. It could work. They already own the land it would seem, so the land acquisition hurdle is passed to negate that driving up the costs.

I like the density on what is really right now one big over sized block.
 

JumboBuc

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Hard to call it a bubble when almost everything is build-to-suit. And many of the projects whighlander listed are still years if not decades out. The early plans may be speculative, but plans are just talk. Little will get built here or anywhere else without concrete commitments from tenants.
 

tysmith95

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^Well said Seamus

I wonder if another large firm like Vertex in the seaport or Partners across the street would be the only way to get this project moving or if the market is strong enough that the developer would be willing to build it to spec with the hope that smaller firms will rent it out.
 

statler

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To be fair, it was actually whigh that pitched the idea of going tall here. odurandina just had a Pavlovian response when he saw it.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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To be fair, it was actually whigh that pitched the idea of going tall here. odurandina just had a Pavlovian response when he saw it.
FWIW, Logan flight paths put a 500 ft. limit at blotting out the sun over East Somerville.


I'm sure someone will find a problem with this all the same.
 

statler

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All we gotta do is move Logan a little to the left. Easy peasy. Well worth the umptin billions of dollars so we can get a 700 footer!
 

DZH22

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FWIW, Logan flight paths put a 500 ft. limit at blotting out the sun over East Somerville.


I'm sure someone will find a problem with this all the same.
Well it looks like the tallest is only about 250', so they're leaving half of their potential on the table in that respect.
 

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