Burlington Expands Opportunities for Life Sciences Along Route 128

Feb 11, 2020

New real estate options open up for life sciences and innovation companies to consider in BioReady® Platinum ranked Burlington, MA

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Contact: Melisa Tintocalis
Phone: 781-505-1186

Burlington, Massachusetts (January 31, 2020) –  On Monday night, January 27th, Burlington’s Town Meeting voted unanimously in favor of four separate warrant articles, opening up additional development opportunities for life sciences uses as a by-right use in three new sites located along I-95/Route 128.  The vote will allow biotech companies to consider new locations within Boston Metro without the need for a special permit for land use.

This change allows for new real estate opportunities that enable the growth of the region’s  life science growing cluster.  JLL, a leading commercial real estate firm, reports that there is an aggregate of nearly 1.2 million square feet of lab space needed over the next 12-18 months from current lab tenants and with the lab vacancy in Cambridge hovering at 2 percent, Burlington will now offer new options for life sciences companies to consider in a MassBIO BioReady® Platinum-ranked community.

Boston remains the epi-center for life sciences – commanding $10B in funding in Massachusetts alone. Burlington has worked hard to understand the regional dynamics of evolving industries as well as the needs of employees.  In the 1990’s when software technology was expanding, Burlington established itself as the tech capital of Route 128. In the 2000’s Burlington understood that amenities were critical to where businesses located in order to attract employees and the Town implemented new mixed-use commercial districts with improved walkability.

Burlington’s Planning Director, Kristin Kassner, a key champion on the life sciences zoning initiative, reported, “In 2018 we began the life science journey to understand how to better position Burlington to support the growing industry. In January 2019, Town Meeting approved important zoning amendments that helped to create a bigger star on the map. In September of 2019, we received the coveted Platinum rating from the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. And this Monday, January 2020, we took another big step forward by rezoning sites to allow for by-right life science uses.”   After the vote, Mrs. Kassner added,  “I am extremely encouraged by the support from our residents and the effort to diversify industries within the Town of Burlington. This is the continuation of proactive planning for the type of growth we want to see in Burlington.”  

Robert Buckley with Riemer & Braunstein, the attorney representing the property owners responded to the vote of approval by saying, “The action by Town Meeting is another indication of how Burlington over the years has been at the forefront of  implanting creative and proactive policies to encourage and sustain economic development.”

The zoning changes expanded the High Rise Industrial district and also included revisions that set the maximum height of buildings to 90 feet and allow for under-building parking. The goal is to encourage redevelopment of sites with strong highway visibility, near existing amenities, but also enhance opportunities for greenspace, walkability and flexibility in design. The three sites include:  1) 400-600 Summit Drive owned by the Gutierrez Company, 2) 3 Van de Graaff Drive owned by American Landmark III LLC, and 3) 60 Blanchard Road, a site controlled by the Nordblom Company. 

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Melisa Tintocalis at 781-505-1186 or mtintocalis@burlington.org.


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