A South Boston site that was once considered for Amazon’s first major distribution center in Boston is instead being re-purposed as — what else? — lab space.
Core Investments this week is unveiling plans to convert two warehouses on Alger Street in Andrew Square into DOTLabs ― lab and research space aimed at the region’s booming life science industry. It will invest $85 million in the warehouses — 140,000 square feet in all — as the first phase of a nine-acre project that will remake a formerly-industrial corridor along Dorchester Avenue.
“DOTLabs represents the initial step in the path to a brand-new life sciences and technology neighborhood,” said John Cissel, Core’s president of development.
Core aims to file detailed plans this spring on that broader project, which would include four new buildings with about 2.5 million square feet of office space, labs, and housing. Approvals and construction are likely months, if not years, away.
But the developer wants to move faster on the two existing warehouses to capture a lab market that’s bursting at the seams, and spilling out to new neighborhoods all over the region, including just one stop north on the Red Line around the Broadway MBTA station. The buildings already have all needed zoning approvals, allowing Core to start work this year on installing lab infrastructure and fitting out research space. It hopes to open in 2022, and plans to begin marketing the space immediately.
“The two DOTLabs buildings will be ready for occupancy next year, for tenants in an industry that is hungry for space in the Boston area, and this is an ultra-accessible location,” said Rob Byrne, a broker with Cushman & Wakefield. “This area is now going on the short lists of tenants who want to be in Boston.”
It is, of course, a turn away from another red-hot sector of the region’s real estate market.
In June, Core said it had a 10-year lease in place with Amazon to convert one of the warehouses into a so-called last mile shipping center for the e-commerce giant, its closest such facility to the core of Boston. That plan, though, drew fire from neighbors worried about traffic. The Boston Planning & Development Agency also objected, saying it didn’t fit with long-term plans for larger-scale mixed-use development along the Dorchester Avenue corridor.
Core withdrew its plans, and came back with the idea for lab space.