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Why Cambridge, Seaport Get All The Bricks

It's not just Alexandria Center, the $500 million, seven-building complex adding a Pru's worth of space to Kendall Square and very well shifting M.I.T.'s intellectual heft a bit to the east. There is a lot of other stuff going up in East Cambridge, and in the Seaport District, too.

Casey Ross of The Globe, in a counterpoint to colleague D.C. Denison's story of developmental woe in Western Mass., breaks down what's going up in the Hub:

· "... Skanska USA Commercial Development is building a $70 million, 120,000-square-foot laboratory facility in Kendall Square."
· "The Seaport is now hosting one of the largest privately funded construction projects in the nation - an $800 million office complex for Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc."
· "Nearby, several new restaurants, such as Strega Waterfront, Legal Harborside, and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, are thriving and developers are promising within months to begin building hundreds of new apartments and retail stores on massive parking lots that still cover much of the district. Those projects are planned at Pier 4, along Congress Street near the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, and at Seaport Square, on property across from the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse."

It's all about the Benjamins and the people who can earn them. Per Ross' story:

These areas have achieved what economic development specialists call critical mass, a threshold level of innovative companies and skilled workers that makes other firms and workers want to be there, too. In other words, the rich get richer.

“Companies want that feeling of vibrancy,’’ said Steve Purpura, a partner with the real estate firm Richards Barry Joyce & Partners. “They want to be part of the exchange of ideas that is driving the growth of these areas.’’

Oddly and hilariously enough, the Seaport's former life as a place you just didn't walk through at night unless you were on your way to meeting your bookie has only helped it present-day:

“The area has an edginess to it that can be very appealing,’’ said Bill Motley, a managing director with real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. “The Seaport used to be a [lower] price alternative to downtown, but the decision to move there isn’t as much about price; it’s about quality of life and image.’’ So there is not one unifying theory as to why East Cambridge and the Seaport are garnering such interest from developers. It's more of a cafeteria of draws, the sort of melange unavoidable in the marketing for contemporary urban development as grittiness=authenticity and geeks=sexy. Don't fight it. Just try to buy property near it.

· Islands of Economic Growth [Globe]
· New Kendall Square Giant Pulling M.I.T. Braintrust East [Curbed Boston]

Kendall Square

Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA