April 26, 2018

Report: MetroWest office market serves as relief valve for rising rents in Boston

Photo/Grant Welker
Staples, whose headquarters is in Framingham, is one of the larger office presences in MetroWest, a region whose office market is expected to grow in the coming years.

The MetroWest office market is serving as a "relief valve" for companies struggling to pay rents in Boston or Cambridge, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

The area is likely to see further growth in the coming years as both companies and younger workers increasingly turn to the suburbs west of Boston instead of being in the city itself. Millennial workers have been moving to the suburbs in droves, JLL said.

"As the Millennial demographic represents a key component of the workforce, this change is likely to impact the MetroWest office market in the future," the firm said.

MetroWest has generally trailed neighborhoods in Boston and its immediate suburbs in vacancy rates as well as rent prices. In the first quarter of 2018, the vacancy rate was 21.7 percent, compared to 9.3 percent in downtown Boston.

Rents for Class A office space in MetroWest has remained steady in recent years at just over $20 per square foot, roughly one-third the price businesses pay on average in downtown Boston. There are no major office spaces currently under construction in MetroWest, according to the report.

The region hosts more than 12 million square feet of office space.

MetroWest is home to international companies like TJX, Staples, Bose and Boston Scientific and hosts regional offices for Whole Foods Market and GE Healthcare.

This year, Astellas Farma will move into a 250,000-square-foot space at 9 Technology Drive in Westborough that was formerly Bose offices. Astellas' lease will make a major dent in the region's vacancy rate, JLL said. Biologics company LakePharma also bought a 69,000-square-foot facility in Hopkinton in February.


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