January 31, 2019

MetroWest adds 308K square feet of biotech space

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Astellas Pharma spent $80 million renovating a former Bose office for a new research and development facility in Westborough.

MetroWest drastically expanded its biotech footprint last year, largely thanks to a single lease: Astellas Pharma moving into Westborough.

Astellas leased all 250,000 square feet of space at 9 Technology Drive in Westborough, taking up residency in an empty former Bose facility off the same stretch of Route 9 hosting eClinicalWorks and Sanofi Genzyme. The facility is now home to research and development operations for the Japanese company after what the Worcester Business Journal has reported is an $80-million investment to convert the former office space to labs.

The Astellas deal took up a bulk of the 308,000 square feet of biotech space added in MetroWest last year, according to Boston real estate agency NAI Hunneman.

The absorption, as the addition of occupied space is known, trailed only East Cambridge, the home of Kendall Square, for the largest addition of space across Greater Boston for 2018, Hunneman said.

MetroWest otherwise had a vacancy rate slightly better than the suburban average, 9.0 percent compared to 10.3 percent. Vacancy rates in Boston and Cambridge are far smaller, at just around 2 percent or less.

The Astellas deal alone represents about one-quarter of all the inventory of biotech space in MetroWest of just under 1 million square feet, according to Hunneman's count. Another 129,000 square feet is under construction, according to the firm.

While Astellas establishes itself in Westborough, another pharmaceutical company may soon be on its way out.

Sanofi's presence in town is in danger, with the company's plans to consolidate its Boston-area operations in a new Cambridge space by 2021. As of 2016, Sanofi had 168,000 square feet of space at One Research Drive.

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