Boston’s Up-and-Coming Uptown Neighborhood: Why Bulfinch Triangle is Boston’s Next Tech Hub Update

Above: The future Uptown headquarters of technology company Rapid7, who will anchor the first phase of the 1.87-million-square-foot Hub on Causeway development.

Technology companies take notice: with a diverse mix of existing and upcoming office, residential and retail space, comparatively affordable rent prices, unparalleled transit access and a location steps from the Financial District, Boston’s Bulfinch Triangle/North Station submarket, now known as Uptown, is rapidly becoming a hotspot for innovative companies. Recently, Rapid7, a rapidly growing security analytics and IT operations provider, announced it will relocate its’ global headquarters from 100 Summer Street in the Financial District to Boston Properties’ and Delaware North’s The Hub on Causeway, a $950 million, 1.87-million-square-foot mixed-use development located adjacent to TD Garden in Uptown, also relocating its’ Kendall Square office in the process.

Having been one of the first technology companies to make the move to the Financial District, Rapid7 will be a pioneer in the Uptown neighborhood when it moves into its’ new 147,000-square-foot home in the second half of 2019. “We are thrilled by Rapid7’s decision to locate and grow their business in the vibrant and connected Uptown neighborhood. Their creative and dynamic workforce will contribute to the energy at The Hub on Causeway and we look forward to welcoming them to the neighborhood in 2019,” said Bryan Koop, Boston Properties’ Boston Region Executive Vice President, in a prepared statement.

Rapid7 is not the only company excited by what Uptown has to offer, with several other innovative companies having already made the move. Uber took 17,500 square feet at 239 Causeway Street in 2014, and Converse moved into a new 230,000-square-foot headquarters at Lovejoy Wharf in 2015. Recently, shared office provider WeWork signed a four-floor lease at 200 Portland Street for its’ fifth Greater Boston location, which will open in early 2018 and host several innovative companies in various stages of growth.

Lovejoy wharf 131 beverly street bulfinch triangle boston office retail luxury condominium development related beal

Above: The Lovejoy Wharf development, with Converse’s new headquarters at left.

With average per-square-foot asking rents per JLL’s Boston Office Insight report of just $49 per square foot compared to $55 in the Seaport District, $57 in the Financial District and $60 in Back Bay, Uptown presents a relative bargain for companies while offering prime transit access and a location in Boston’s center steps from multiple dining and entertainment options. Accordingly, Q3 2017 office vacancy rates have dropped to just 3.5% in Uptown this year, much lower than the 8.4%, 9.4%, and 12.4% rates in the Seaport District, Financial District and Back Bay, respectively.

With such high demand for office space but a total availability of less than 100,000 square feet, Uptown, with its’ very favorable market conditions, is receiving tremendous interest from developers, who plan to spend billions of dollars to construct new office, residential and retail space in the neighborhood. The final phase of The Hub on Causeway will construct a 21-story office tower totaling approximately 525,000 square feet, with a 38-story residential tower with approximately 440 units and a 10-story citizenM hotel tower with approximately 260 rooms also in the mix.

Above: Rendering of The Hub on Causeway upon completion.

Uptown will soon be home to Bulfinch Crossing, a $2 billion, 2.9-million-square-foot mixed-use development. Bulfinch Crossing will replace the existing Government Center Garage with 1.15 million square feet of office space, over 800 housing units including apartments and condominiums, 200 hotel rooms and 82,500 square feet of retail.

Above: Future view of Bulfinch Crossing from the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

In addition to the aforementioned Lovejoy Wharf, which features 157 condominium residences in addition to Converse’s new office and ground-floor retail, recently completed projects in Uptown include Avalon North Station, a $250 million, 38-story tower featuring 503 luxury apartment residences with 3,575 square feet of retail, and One Canal, a $195 million building featuring 310 luxury apartment residences and 21,000 square feet of retail. The Beverly, a $230 million building that will feature 239 mixed-income apartments, a 220-room Courtyard Marriott hotel and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, will provide Uptown with an increasingly important affordable housing option, helping ensure that Boston’s workforce can live in the Downtown area with market-rate rents rapidly rising.

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Above: View of One Canal (in foreground) and Avalon North Station (in background) from the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

Many leading shopping, dining and entertainment retailers have opened, or will open, venues in Uptown, recognizing the area’s huge potential with a rising technology and residential presence. Both Star Market and ArcLight Cinema will open locations at The Hub on Causeway, and Big Night Entertainment Group and Live Nation New England will partner to create a venue at the development featuring a nightclub, a restaurant, a concert venue and a bowling facility. Lovejoy Wharf is now home to a signature Converse apparel store and will soon be home to a restaurant by leading Boston restaurateur Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli. City Winery recently opened the doors to a new live music venue and restaurant at One Canal.

With nearly two million square feet of office space and hundreds of housing units in development, Uptown continues to become even more attractive towards major technology tenants. General Electric (GE) reportedly considered anchoring The Hub on Causeway’s office component during its’ 2016 headquarters search, demonstrating Uptown’s newfound corporate prominence, before ultimately deciding to locate its’ headquarters in Fort Point. Furthermore, the City of Somerville’s recently submitted bid for Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2) calls for Amazon to anchor The Hub on Causeway’s office tower. WeWork is even rumored to be leasing an additional 38,000 square feet at The Hub on Causeway. The railroad tracks, platforms and surface parking lots surrounding Uptown’s main transit hub, North Station, could one day support an air rights tower, adding even more office presence to the neighborhood as well as residences and retail space. As companies of various sizes and stages take residence in Uptown and new development projects take shape, the area is poised to continue its’ transformation into one of Boston’s most desirable corporate locations and a great place to live, work and play.

Above: A rendering of a proposed GE Headquarters at The Hub on Causeway, created when GE’s headquarters search was codenamed “Project Plum”.

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