Xmbly Somerville Development Combines In-Demand Facilities with a Highly Desirable Locale
Posted By: Boston City Properties
Capitalizing on the proximity of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s Orange Line, developers have conceived of a new, 1.5 million square foot mixed-use complex in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts to be built on a 9.4 acre parcel. The parcel, which is located in a prosperous area that is known informally as Assembly Row, is also located within close distance of Interstate 93, a major Boston transportation route. This essentially makes the development, which has been dubbed “Xmbly,” an extension of the adjacent metropolis.
The proposed mixed use project, the master plan of which was officially approved by the city of Somerville in June 2018, adds much needed laboratory space to a metropolitan area that is currently experiencing record high demand for specialized facilities. Currently, the project plans to add two residential towers, one with 329 units, and another with 160 units. An additional 20,000 square feet of retail space will be constructed, as will a 140,000 square foot office tower equipped with research and development-oriented facilities. A second office tower standing 250 feet tall and comprising 388,000 square feet of leasable space will be flanked by a slightly smaller, 200 foot tall office building, which will provide 286,000 square feet of leasable space.
However, Xmbly has been generating excitement not only for its much needed infusion of brand new research-ready spaces, but also for undertaking the refurbishment of an existing 162,000 square foot commercial building. Developers envision the project garnering enthusiasm from both existing and start-up firms that need additional operating room but are rapidly running out of affordable options within the official city limits of Boston. Although the city’s Seaport District is still booming with new development, rapidly rising rents have encouraged developers to start seeking slightly less expensive tracts of real estate. Somerville, which shares borders with Cambridge and Medford, offers a perfect mix of accessibility and availability.
The area is not without its scenic charms. Located on the banks of the Mystic River, the project is also within easy walking distance of the Sylvester Baxter Riverfront Park. The architects of the project are making the most of both the riverside locale and the spectacular skyline views of nearby downtown Boston by creating a series of walkable plazas that encourage pedestrian exploration. Renderings for the project show a mixture of pedestrian-only spaces that are demarcated by lushly outfitted planters and an appealing array of overhead lighting and decorative objects. Pop-up canopy covered tables and chairs can be arranged to suit spontaneous festivals, food fairs, and other street-level activities. These pedestrian-only areas are lined by lighted bollards that abridge two-lane throughways for vehicles, creating a healthy balance between the project’s walkability and its accessibility to visitors.
Although leases for these new spaces are expected to be lower than those for comparable facilities in the heart of Boston, they will still provide healthy margins for investors. This is partly due to the success of Assembly Row’s retail sector, which has correspondingly helped create a welcoming environment for office and residential spaces. However, the research-oriented spaces will undoubtedly spur the bulk of the initial signings for long-term leases. The first phase of construction, which includes one of the residential towers, is expected to begin next year.