Image courtesy of National Development

National Development is positioning its next projects at The District to attract more life science tenants to Burlington’s growing lab cluster.

The Burlington planning board approved changes to the business park’s 2009 master plan, enabling construction of three life science buildings totaling 665,000 square feet.

The amendment, approved June 1, includes two life science buildings at 1200 and 1700 District Ave. that would replace existing office buildings, and a new 190,000-square-foot life science building previously approved as office space.

The post-COVID evolution of commercial real estate markets made it “critically important” to update the future direction of development at the park, according to application materials submitted in February. 

Although The District’s 1-million-square-foot office component is 95 percent leased, National Development anticipates that life science will comprise the bulk of future leasing, reflecting trends across the suburban Boston commercial real estate market.

National Development previously updated The District, previously known as New England Executive Park, with development of a 170-room hotel and two new restaurants to augment the traditional office uses.

Burlington has one of the most active suburban life science markets and has sought to accelerate the industry’s migration with lab-friendly zoning designed to encourage new construction and office-to-lab conversions alike.

Nordblom Co.’s expansion of its former Network Drive campus, recently rebranded as Blue Sky Drive, includes a new 146,000-square-foot research facility for the Cambridge-based Broad Institute that’s scheduled to open in 2024. Cambridge-based Vericel Corp. previously leased 125,000 square feet of manufacturing, lab and office space at the property for an advanced cell therapy manufacturing center and headquarters.

The 1.8 million-square-foot Route 128 north life science submarket has a 15.4 percent vacancy rate and asking rents of $69.15 on a triple-net basis, according to Newmark research.

Burlington officials also are proposing mixed-use zoning updates to the 600-acre Burlington Mall corridor that could enable up to 4.4 million square feet of additional development.

Representing National Development at the sixth and final public hearing on the District changes, attorney Mark Vaughan said bike lanes could be added to District Avenue to conform with the complete streets strategy envisioned for Burlington Mall Road.

Burlington Approves National Development Life Science Expansion

by Steve Adams time to read: 1 min