Magazine article Journal of Property Management

A Space Center Takes Off

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

A Space Center Takes Off

Article excerpt

The former ITEK headquarters in Boston's high-tech corridor goes from '60s to '90s.

Once home to scientists who helped put America in space, the former ITEK headquarters in Lexington, Mass., was still a prime location in Boston's high-tech corridor. But obsolete design, inadequate parking, and minimal amenities limited the vacant property's appeal to the high-tech and financial services firms that frequented the area--until a master plan by Symmes Maini & McKee Associates (SMMA) opened the space up to the 21st century.

Designed primarily as a high-security R&D space, the 375,000-square-foot campus had several severe limitations as a multitenant facility. Many of the nine connected buildings on the site were either too narrow at 72 feet or too wide at over 200 feet. Strip windows in steel frames painted black, with dark glass inserted in the light brick facade, presented a fortress-like image to the street. The R&D utility infrastructure was totally inadequate for future office market needs. Even more daunting, almost 33 percent of the floor areas in the buildings were below-grade.

In addition, access issues presented challenges. Originally designed for corporate offices, laboratories, and manufacturing, parking was inadequate to meet the five-to-seven cars per thousand feet that current prospective tenants were seeking. The single main entrance for all the buildings provided a secure facility for the original use but was inadequate for multiple tenants.

Ultimately, to achieve the proper balance of buildings, parking, and amenities, several buildings had to be demolished. The loss of approximately 60,000 square feet raised concerns that the property might not have enough square footage to meet a viable pro forma.

Digging for Profits

Despite the buildings' drawbacks, the structures possessed a great deal of "residual" value. The veneer brick and steel buildings were sound, and the site was large enough to accommodate change.

To increase the buildings' presence and appeal from the street, three new three-story entrance towers in green glass and mill-finish aluminum curtain wall were added to the fronts of the most important buildings. All entrances were easily accessed from new adjacent parking. …

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