Two Proposed Life Science Buildings to Go Before Planning Board

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A rendering of the building proposed for 490 Arsenal Way, known as Linx II.

The Planning Board will consider two life science buildings proposed to go on existing biotech sites in Watertown when it meets on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

The first is at 490 Arsenal Way, where Columbia Massachusetts Arsenal Office Properties LLC seeks to build a 104,000 sq. ft. research and development lab/office building. The project is known as Linx II and is proposed to be four-stories and 68.5-feet tall, and would have a parking garage.

It would be built on the current surface parking for the Linx building, which was constructed on a former Verizon site, and backs onto Nichols Avenue.

A view of the proposed building at 99 Water St., from the Charles River Path south of the river.

At 99 Water St., 51 Water Street LLC proposes to construct 224,000 sq. ft. research and development lab building. It would be four-stories and 55-feet tall with a penthouse for mechanical equipment, and would also have 430 lower-level parking spaces.

The project, located south of the Charles River, is the second phase of the development in which 66 Galen St. was the first phase.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 16 in City Hall, and the public can also participate on Zoom. Email comments to prior to the meeting

Join the virtual meeting online here:

Participate by phone in audio only at: (877) 853-5257 or (888) 475-4499 (Toll Free) and enter Meeting ID#: 92709029148

The meeting will be televised on Watertown Cable Access Television: RCN 13; Comcast 99 or on the web:

9 thoughts on “Two Proposed Life Science Buildings to Go Before Planning Board

  1. Yes! More biotech buildings with no tenants. Between these 2 buildings, 328K sq/ft of lab/office space. Do these developers think they will be able to pull tenants from Cambridge?
    Biotech spaces being built on Coolidge Ave, Elm Str, Pleasant Str, Waltham str. We are looking at >750K sq/ft of lab space. Is there a leased signed for the project on Galen street? The biotech market is showing signs of slowing yet we continue to expand our space inventory as does Waltham, Lexington, Allston and others. Real estate prices are declining in cambridge which could make these newer properties less attractive.

    The town council has to research this further and warrant if building more biotech space is worth it at the expense of the towns people.

  2. How does this fit into the planning and zoning guidelines? Are there guidelines? Has there been an adequate environmental impact study done on this?
    How do these projects support a good quality of life in Watertown. Kendall Square should be a cautionary example of how to sterilize an area.

  3. Time for the town to reconsider all the biotech lab space in Watertown. Not improving any quality of life to those living in all these neighborhoods being over run with this type of development.

  4. Hi Corey and Patti,

    I share your concerns, and if you go back to the November 9th letter I wrote entitled “Time to Involve Residents in the Planning of Watertown’s Future,” you’ll see that there are far more than 750 sf of lab buildings. If you count the approximately 24 lab spaces built, in planning, and approved to be built, there are more like 3.5 million sf. The newest one is planned for the Cannistraro site on Rosedale Road (in west Watertown) that the City hasn’t even informed the public of yet. It clocks in at 180,000 sf alone! You’ll notice that one Watertown responder says that Cambridge residents are fed up and trying to stop this unbridled growth in their community. A few knowledgeable responders talked about what the answer has to be…zoning reform. The biggest problem mentioned…getting the City Councillors to stand up to big business when reforming our zoning to make Watertown less financially attractive for labs. This would give our community a chance to survive. Check it out. Share with your friends who are concerned and by all means, call or write your councillors!

  5. Many more people are coming out opposing the overwhelming building of biolabs in Watertown. We don’t know what is going to happen to the economy going forward for the next year or so and interest rates are going up. If all we allow to be built is labs, we are putting Watertown in jeopardy of not having enough diversity of businesses and associated jobs. We could be hurt substantially on tax incomes and by having empty buildings in many areas.

    Many of us put our faith in our elected officials and town leaders in the past. We felt they were looking out for our interests and thought they were the most knowledgeable people to make the right decisions as they were connected to people in the know. It seems that many of the connections were to developers who easily swayed our leaders to make the decisions on zoning and planning. We residents were only involved in the last stages of development when there were only opportunities to make minor tweaks to any plans presented to us. The decisions on the developments were already made prior to our community meetings.

    I am hoping that our new City Manager Proakis will respond to our questions, concerns and ideas. Apparently he was involved in similar situations in his roles in Somerville. If he indeed has our City’s interests in mind, he needs to perhaps put a hold on future developments until he truly understands what is happening in Watertown and the concerns of its citizens.

    The Comprehensive Plan is in the works, but it will probably be some time before any decisions are made and any plans are implemented. I think we need to look at the zoning requirements NOW. When some of them were put in place years ago, no one could anticipate the explosion of biolabs or what their requirements would be. With the boom, or possibly bust, that is going on now, we need to react quickly to protect our City.

    It is difficult to predict the future, but we need to learn from history and not make the same decisions or mistakes. From what I understand Watertown used to be a manufacturing area because of the mills along the river. When those companies and jobs went away, there weren’t a lot of businesses to replace them. Our tax base for businesses wasn’t close to what cities around us had. If we put all of our eggs in one basket, namely biolabs, will we be again putting our City at risk?

    We residents certainly don’t have all the answers, but we ask our City leaders to do a lot of deep thinking, investigations into other possibilities, and keep the quality of life for our residents in mind. If any residents have concerns about the developments going into your areas, NOW is the time to contact our Councillors and Manager Proakis to express your thoughts.

    Also, I encourage you to sign into the various zoom meetings that Charlie mentions at the bottom of his Watertown News articles. The links are there and it just takes a little bit of your time to make a difference. When was the last time you either attended a Council Meeting, a Planning or Zoning Meeting, or at least watched them on our Watertown cable channel or on zoom? As a hymnal song goes, Let It Begin With Me.

  6. From today’s (11/15) Boston Globe: “…[T]he lab boom is slowing amid a rocky economy, rising interest rates, and soaring construction costs. And the latest evidence came in a recent report by real estate brokerage Newmark, which predicted that of the 40 million square feet of life science lab space that has been proposed but not yet started construction in Greater Boston, some 80 percent — 32 million square feet — could be ‘curtailed’ and put on hold.”

  7. Also, I’ve read that a lot of potential drug development businesses (bio labs) are putting their ideas on hold, because Medicare can now negotiate drug prices for people…They’re on hold NOT because their businesses wouldn’t make a profit, but that these businesses wouldn’t make the huge profits that they’re making now. Do we really want companies with those ethics weighing in on our community’s decisions and priorities??

  8. We are definitely putting all our eggs in one basket. Developers are going after whatever can make them the most money the fastest before they leave the results to the towns to deal with. Before biotech, it was big, cheaply built, badly designed, transient apartment buildings. At least the biotech buildings are better quality design and construction. But with everyone building lab space, it has to crash at some point. And we do need housing. Watertown is always behind the curve with planning.

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