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The BBJ's top five real estate stories of the year

BOSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL – Well readers, I technically wasn’t located in Boston for most of this year. But the constant refrain I’ve heard since starting this job a few weeks ago is, “there’s just so much development going on right now.” And, after taking a look at the BBJ’s top real estate stories of the year, I gotta say: our readers are right.

Here’s a look at the top five real estate stories the Boston Business Journal wrote this year:


1. Baxter confirms it’s moving its R&D arm moving to Cambridge

As the Boston Business Journal first reported, health care giant Baxter International is opening a 400-employee, 200,000-square-foot research and development center in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. The major biotechnology company had launched a year-long search, under the name “Project Tiger,” to find space big enough for its research arm.

Baxter in September signed a 12-year lease at 650 East Kendall St. in Cambridge, which will house an innovation center as well as business development, oncology and biosimilars employees.

Baxter International (NYSE: BAX) has about $15 billion in revenue and 60,000 employees worldwide and has historically been based in Illinois, but the company plan to spin out its biopharmaceuticals business into a separate company to be incorporated in 2015.


2. Here’s what the $37.5M penthouse at Millenium Tower looks like

The site of the former Filene’s Department Store will be home to a mammoth 60-story, $680 million super luxury residential tower — and the tower’s fanciest penthouse will fetch $37.5 million.

Millennium Tower Boston will house 442 units, 150 of which were already presold by October, according to a Millennium Partners spokesperson.

The tower is slated to open in summer 2016 and offer some of the best views in the city.


3. Marlborough: A town that’s coming back

At the end of 2010, around 50 percent of Marlborough’s office and R&D space was either empty or about to be empty. The city has about 5.6 million square feet of leasable space — the single largest office and R&D market in MetroWest, according to Cassidy Turley data. The next year, just 106 commercial building permits were filed, totaling $20.2 million in value, according to City of Marlborough data.

Fast forward to today, and the story has changed completely. Marlborough has sliced its late 2010 vacancy by about half. And a total of 374 commercial building permits at a value of $100.5 million were filed in 2013.

Some of that space was eaten up by GE Healthcare, which over the summer announced it would move its U.S. headquarters and 500 employees to a 160,000-square-foot property at 200 Forest St. That’s the same property where Quest Diagnostics signed a 200,000-square-foot lease in 2012.

Marlborough’s is a commercial real estate revival that continues.


4: $1.1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston will be expanded by 1.3 million square feet, a $1.1 billion project that’s set to be the state’s single-largest capital investment project since the completion of the Big Dig.

Supporters of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority’s project say the expansion, which encompasses exhibit space, ballrooms and meeting rooms will bring increased business and tax revenue to the city.

But an in-depth investigation by the Boston Business Journal found that the project’s approval came amid weak financial analysis, skepticism from the state treasurer’s office that the expansion will generate enough revenue to cover the $1 billion project cost and no outside or independent analysis of the development.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrickapproved legislation authorizing the expansion this summer.


5. Boston’s 2014 building boom by the numbers

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh in December drove home the momentum of Boston’s ongoing building boom, rattling off a number of statistics about the sheer volume of work underway in the city during a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Here’s a roundup of Walsh’s highlights:

• $4 billion worth of new construction will have broken ground by Dec. 31, up 16.4 percent from the year before.

• 7.5 million square feet of total space will have been added.

• 12,000 construction jobs were supported this year.

• 3,859 housing units are under construction, on track to meet a target of 53,000 units by 2030.

“We’re proud of these results,” Walsh said at the speec. “We hit the ground running, and we didn’t let up.”

This article by Catherine Carlock originally appeared here.