For owners of Boston commercial space, 2020 was a year of bifurcation.
The coronavirus pandemic affirmed life sciences' place as the dominant force driving major leasing activity in Boston and nearby suburbs, with anchor tenants securing significant footprints at incoming projects.
But only four office deals topped 75K SF in downtown Boston, the lone bright spots in a rough year marked by rising vacancies, skyrocketing sublease space and employers largely mandating remote work.
“We’re beyond levels we saw in the tech bust,” Colliers Boston Director of Research Aaron Jodka said, noting sublease space in downtown is at a level beyond the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. “That’s probably a better comparison in terms of vacancy.”
Here are the largest 10 lease deals from 2020 in Boston, Cambridge and their immediate suburbs, compiled using data from Newmark, Lincoln Property Co., Colliers and Cushman & Wakefield.
Bristol Myers Squibb
Courtesy of Steelblue
A rendering of the Cambridge Crossing development in East Cambridge
Location: Cambridge Crossing
Size: 360K SF
Type: New lease
The year's largest deal came in the midst of the pandemic, with New York-based BMS signing this deal for office and lab space in August. BMS is heading to the project at 250 Water St., which is expected to deliver in 2022, developer DivcoWest said.
The deal is among the largest at the 45-acre site, which earlier this week announced the topping off of the adjacent 350 and 450 Water St. buildings, the future 900K SF home of biopharmaceutical tenant Sanofi.
Courtesy of Breakthrough Properties
A rendering of 105 West First St. in Boston's Seaport
Location: 105 West First St., Seaport
Size: 264K SF
Landlord: Breakthrough Properties
Type: New lease
The Cambridge-based gene-editing company committed to fully occupy this spec lab building 18 months ahead of a scheduled delivery. The project is the first by Breakthrough, a joint venture of Tishman Speyer and biotech investment firm Bello Capital. Breakthrough purchased the site for $80M in July 2019.
The deal was the largest of the year in the expanding Seaport lab market, with massive purchases by life sciences titans but no nearby lease deals topping 100K SF in 2020.
852 Winter St. In Waltham
Location: 852 Winter St., Waltham
Size: 180K SF
Landlord: GI Partners
Biopharmaceutical tenant Alkermes quietly renewed its lease in October at its Waltham office through April 2026, according to Cushman & Wakefield reports and South Middlesex County public records. The Dublin-based firm has a 220K SF U.S. headquarters in the nearby Reservoir Woods campus, a Marcus Partners property.
GI Partners, a San Francisco-based private investment firm, purchased the site in 2014 through its TechCore real estate fund on behalf of the California Public Employees' Retirement System.
200 West St. in Waltham
Lexington-based Translate Bio is moving into a more spacious site in 2021 after signing a 10-year lease with Boston Properties, it announced last month. The messenger RNA therapeutics company will depart the growing life sciences hub in Lexington, representing a difficult loss for the city, Lexington Economic Development Director Sandhya Iyer told Bisnow.
“It’s a homegrown company for us, but they’re moving out to Waltham,” Iyer said. "More money equals more space."
152 Grove St. in Waltham
Location: 152 Grove St., Waltham
Size: 100K SF
Landlord: Hilco Redevelopment Partners
The Cambridge, UK-based company secured a spot in an office park tucked away in the Waltham suburbs. The protein research company signed at HRP's recently renovated office and flex asset to make the site fully leased, according to Newmark.
Global investment firm TPG is purchasing the site for $100M from Hilco, according to South Middlesex County land records posted Monday. The companies didn't immediately respond to requests for confirmation Tuesday.
Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy And Environmental Affairs
251 Causeway St. in Boston
Location: 251 Causeway St., Boston
Size: 98K SF
Landlord: Office Properties Income Trust
The Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will make its new home in Boston's North End alongside the state headquarters for the Department of Conservation & Recreation and the Environmental Police. The department will move from its current headquarters at Financial District skyscraper 100 Cambridge St.
The lease, signed in the summer with REIT Office Properties Income Trust, according to Cushman & Wakefield, keeps the 141K SF building fully leased, according to an earnings report. Details of the transaction were kept quiet at the time, and public record of the deal was absent in Suffolk County public records.
Atlantic Wharf at Boston's Fort Point Channel waterfront
Location: 290 Congress St., Boston
Size: 82K SF
Landlord: Boston Properties
International asset manager Columbia Threadneedle is relocating its global headquarters from its current home at 225 Franklin in Post Office Square, where its lease for 150K SF will expire next year, the Boston Globe reported.
The firm's new offices for its 500 employees will span two stories at Boston Properties' 10-year-old building. The company only plans to bring up to 25% of its employees into the office next fall, a spokesman for the company told The Globe.
Kendall Square-based Constellation Pharmaceuticals will move into a 79K SF headquarters in Watertown next year, signing a lease with Alexandria Real Estate Equities at its Watertown campus, public records show.
Location: 100 Talcott Ave.
Size: 79K SF
Landlord: Alexandria Real Estate Equities
Type: New Lease
Biopharmaceutical company Constellation Pharmaceuticals is moving into a new home with a 10-year lease inked with life sciences giant Alexandria Real Estate Equities.
Constellation next year will leave its Kendall Square location, a 35K SF space at 215 First St. Alexandria is redeveloping an 11-building, 1M SF office campus it purchased from Athenahealth for $526M last year, and Constellation is moving into one of the first new lab buildings on the property.
75 State St. in downtown Boston
Location: 75 State St.
Size: 78K SF
Landlord: Rockpoint Group and DivcoWest
L.E.K., a global management and consulting firm, will stay at the iconic 31-story Financial District building, expanding its footprint by 15K SF, according to CBRE. The 22-year-old building is owned by Rockpoint and DivcoWest. L.E.K's office space spans the building's 18th and 21st floors.