Innovation District buildings hold promise for startups

More than two years after Boston Mayor Thomas Menino branded the Seaport neighborhood as the “Innovation District,” a real estate investment firm that specializes in housing technology startups purchased four buildings.

DivCo West’s recent Boston purchase is one of many purchases throughout the nation for the company, which houses young technology companies.

“They’ve [DivCo West) done it in Silicon Valley, they’ve done it in San Francisco, now they’ve done it in Boston,” said Tim Gallen, a spokesman for the DivCo West. “They see that there is a growing concentration of young, entrepreneurial technology companies moving into the Seaport area.”

DivCo West has purchased four former warehouse buildings, or 373,00 square feet of space, previously used by the Boston Wharf Company, according to a press release. The spaces lie on Sleeper and Congress Streets.

“DivCo West has a specific reputation for buying properties that have technology clients or are in areas where there are a concentration of technology companies,” Gallen said. “They buy space that can be fixed up for the younger generation, for people that don’t necessarily want the same type of space that their predecessors did.”

Gallen said DivCo West would renovate the properties, make them greener and then lease them out to various technology companies.

“These are buildings with great bones in a dynamic submarket of Boston that is rapidly growing in its appeal for companies seeking creative workspace environments,” said DivCoWest CEO Stuart Shiff in the press release.

Gallen would not comment on whether any companies had approached DivCo West to rent the spaces.

In his state of the city address in January, Menino said the Boston Innovation District was building jobs in Boston, and would continue to do so.

“We could have just thrown up some skyscrapers and high-end condos,” said Menino of the Seaport area. “Instead, we insisted on building connections in addition to new space. So now, more than 100 new companies have brought 3,000 jobs to the waterfront — and more are on the way.”

A number of technology startups have made this waterfront area their home, including Skyhook, a startup focused on location-based services.

Vertex, a global biotechnology company that develops medicine, is moving its headquarters from Cambridge to the waterfront. Brightcove, a provider of cloud content services, is also based on Congress Street in the district.

As another sign of vibrancy for this developing neighborhood, the Boston Redevelopment Authority had a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 16 that announced the building of 100 Pier 4, a $195-million project that will bring an additional 369 residential units in the Innovation District.

Current housing developments in the Innovation District total half a billion dollars, according to a press release from the BRA.

“100 Pier 4 is another exciting project breaking ground on our bustling waterfront,” Menino said in the press release. “We have four major housing developments under construction, the future headquarters of Vertex Pharmaceuticals well underway, and the nation’s first public innovation center scheduled to open this spring. The South Boston Waterfront is quickly emerging as an innovative and exciting day-to-night neighborhood.”

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