National Aims to Keep Suburbia Relevant
- Jun 22, 2015
By Leah Etling, Contributing Writer
Creating a more walkable, multi-amenity office and restaurant park northwest of Boston is the goal of a redevelopment now underway for the New England Executive Park in Burlington. A hotel and four restaurants will be added to the property, in addition to pedestrian access improvements and a new parking garage. Developers hope the changes will help make available office space more competitive with city-based competition.
The property was purchased in 2013 by National Development, AEW Capital Management, and Charles River Realty Investors, who paid $216 million for the 60 acre parcel with 13 existing office buildings, totaling 1.1 million square feet. It is being renamed The District Burlington, to reflect a more multi-use development approach.
“We’re making this what suburban properties will need to become in order to stay relevant and competitive,” Andrew Gallinaro, senior vice president, director of asset management at National Development told CPE. “By introducing a variety of amenities including restaurants, retail, hotel and high-quality open space, we will meet the demands of today’s workforce and will allow employers to attract and retain the highest-quality talent.”
The new construction for the site will include four restaurants and a 170-key Marriott Residence Inn. The projects will add 300,000 square feet of buildings to the site.
Existing office tenants – the property is currently 90 percent leased with 65 companies on site – have told the National Development team that competing with walkable urban environments is a challenge when it comes to recruiting and holding onto employees. It’s a contest many suburban business parks are facing.
“Their challenge is that there are so many companies that have chosen to locate within the urban core, where there is better access to housing and walkable amenities,” Gallinaro added. He considers the Burlington location to be “new suburban,” which he defines as “what suburban properties will need to become in order to stay competitive with the urban core.
Private vehicle access will remain the primary method of access to The District, which is located just off of Route 128 near The Burlington Mall and the Leahy Clinic, a hospital/medical research facility. A new 350-car parking garage is part of the revamp. But the goal is that once employees arrive for work, they will stroll or bike to nearby restaurants for lunch and dinner. Tuscan Kitchen and Market and Tavern on the Square, already open, have been successful in this regard. An on-site bike share is also part of the changes.
“We are enthusiastic about The District Burlington,” said Dan Bradley, director & senior portfolio manager at AEW Capital Management. “We felt it was a great opportunity to acquire a property in one of the preeminent suburban Boston office markets and transform it into a vibrant mixed-use environment with a high level of walkability that would appeal to firms with a lot of younger professionals.”
Construction is now underway and completion is anticipated next summer. Cranshaw Construction is the builder, Elkus Manfredi Architects (new construction), and Maugel Architects (building repositioning) are the architects, and CRJA Landscape Architects is the landscaper.