The office market has slowed down in Boston — but the lab market has taken off.
The pandemic forced many companies into telework patterns, softening the city’s market for office space. That drop in demand is forcing developers like Todd Fremont Smith, senior vice president of development for the real estate company Nordblom, to change their plans.
“We've got to go skate where the puck is going," Smith told GBH News. "So the puck is going really fast [to the] life-science market. The level of demand there is just off the charts.”
Smith’s company is overseeing the renovation of the former Boston Globe building along Dorchester’s Morrissey Boulevard, off th Southeast Expressway. The building is one of several that were originally pitched with a prominent portion devoted to offices but have since shifted to focus on lab, tech and bio medical space.
Smith is preparing to welcome robotics, 3D printing and medical device companies into the cavernous space where printing presses, rolls of newsprint and vats of ink once stood.
Officials with the Boston Planning and Development Agency could not immediately say how much lab space could potentially come online now that the office market has cooled, but they said the Dorchester building will serve as a barometer for whether more lab space can be housed in the area.
Smith declined to discussed which companies are prospective tenants, but he told GBH News that he and Nordblom are betting that the site can still be filled with a smaller portion of office space than initially planned as the market recovers.
“Office space might change a little bit," he said. "I think people might not go into the office five days a week, but I think they still need an office to go to."