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Somerville’s Union Square lab building to start construction in 2019

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It’s part of a much larger project around a future Green Line stop that will include 2.4 million square feet total

A rendering of a multi-building development in Union Square, Somerville. Rendering via US2

A major part of the eventual 2.4 million-square-foot buildout of a 15.7-acre footprint in Somerville’s Union Square area is moving forward.

The city’s Planning Board in mid-July approved a 175,000-sqauare-foot lab building at Somerville Avenue and Prospect Street. Union Square Station Associates (US2), the master developer on the overall project, says the structure will be one of a kind in Somerville.

“The new lab building will provide much-needed lab and office space for innovative companies already located in Union Square, as well as new businesses looking to join this emerging employment center and innovative hub located in the middle of the triangle of brain power that spans Somerville and Cambridge,” US2 said in a release.

Somerville selected US2 in 2014 as the master developer on the Union Square buildout, which is expected to be 60 percent commercial and 40 percent residential, with more then 3.5 acres of open space. The $1.5 billion project, which is expected to generate $11.3 million in annual tax revenue, is also going up around a future stop on the extended Green Line.

As for the $160 million life sciences-lab building itself, construction is expected to start this year and wrap in 2021. SGA is the architect. The building is slated to have a so-called blue roof for environmentally friendly water retention and 8,900 square feet of arts and creative space as well ground-floor retail.

“We are thankful to the Planning Board for their thoughtful consideration and approval,” Greg Karczewski, president of Union Square Station Associates, said in a statement. “This will help to kickstart the revitalization of Union Square and unlock the neighborhood’s potential as an employment center and regional economic drive. Our vision for this project is to make Union Square into a destination for employers, create more green space, achieve housing goals with a range of affordability, and preserve the neighborhood character that everybody loves today.”

In other words, might Somerville’s Union Square become another next Kendall Square? Stay tuned.