The Southborough Economic Development Committee (EDC) kicked off its first Commercial Broker Breakfast that emphasized partnership with the broker community and the municipality. “This is an exciting time to partner with Southborough,” said Pam DiGiovanni, EDC Coordinator. Broker Breakfasts are used as national models to partner and communicate with the EDCs, commercial brokers, lenders, developers. Over 25 brokers, lenders and developers, and municipal leaders attended this exciting event.
“SOUTHBOROUGH — Harvard Medical School is looking for ways to repurpose four buildings at its now-closed New England Primate Research Center on Pine Hill Drive, and thinking about leasing parts of it to private businesses or other research organizations.
The primate center officially closed in May 2015. “What we are thinking about doing is trying to bring a research entity out there or other entities that we may be able to talk to brokers about,” said Nelson Pleau, managing director for campus planning at Harvard Medical School, at a broker breakfast Friday morning. The Southborough Economic Development Committee hosted the breakfast at the Senior Center.
Pleau said the school has contacted officials in Southborough and Marlborough to focus on new opportunities for the 130-acre site. Pleau reiterated there are no firm plans for the campus. “There is about 140,000 square feet in the four buildings that remain on the campus that can easily be renovated and changed to fit different needs or continue to do bio-medical research,” he said. Pleau said the buildings could be used by multiple businesses and groups and could hold up to 200 employees.
The majority of the buildings are in Southborough, but the entrance off Parmenter Road is in Marlborough. The campus is also home to the Harvard University Library Services Book Depository, which is a 180,000-square-foot building that will remain. The building holds rare book collections, record retention documents and other achieves in a climate-controlled facility.
Pleau said the premier research building on the campus was built in 2004 and features a state-of-the-art open laboratory design, a conference room and 108-seat auditorium. Several of the buildings were designed for animal housing and cage and rack sterilization facilities, according to information from the school. “The space in both buildings could be easily converted to satisfy the needs of varying research programs or research animal model facilities, including rodents, reptiles, amphibian, and other models,” the information reads. The other buildings were constructed in 1965, 2003 and 2011.
Selectman Daniel Kolenda asked the school officials if the buildings are for sale, or for lease. “We are not putting them up for sale,” said Rick Shea, associate dean for campus planning. “We wouldn’t rule that out in the future.” Shea said much of the land can’t be built on and will remain open space.
Harvard announced two years ago that it would wind down operations at the primate center by 2015. At the time the closing was announced, the school would not comment on whether the decision had anything to do with ongoing pressure by animal-rights groups to shut the facility down, including protests after four monkeys died between June 2010 and February 2012 because of animal care and oversight problems. The U.S. Department of Agriculture investigated the center and cited Harvard for violations of animal welfare rules.
Pam DiGiovanni, economic development coordinator, spoke of efforts in town to support new and existing businesses. She said there are 660 businesses in town with a total of 7,500 employees. “Southborough is not the sleepy bedroom town,” she said.
There are 27 properties for sale or lease in town. One property the committee is focusing on is 250 Turnpike Road, which most recently housed Kaz, a manufacturer of healthcare devices and home comfort products, according to its website. The company recently moved to Marlborough. The building is 57,000 square feet. “It is a unique opportunity because the zoning is flexible,” DiGiovanni said.
Building Commissioner Mark Robidoux said the town has a streamlined permit process online for tenant build-outs and encouraged businesses to contact him about any permitting matters.
“I have real estate people calling me every day,” he said.”
Credits: Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 508-626-4338 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JPhelps_MW.
For more information on this breakfast, please contact Southborough EDC Coordinator, Pam DiGiovanni.