Novartis to build $600M complex

Will replace Analog Devices as MIT’s tenant at 181 Mass Ave.

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Novartis has leased the above four pink lots from MIT for at least sixty years; they are just across the street from Novartis’ existing sites at 186, 220, and 250 Massachusetts Avenue.
David M. Templeton, OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA
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Novartis might demolish the Analog Devices building, on Massachusetts Avenue between Albany St. and Smart St., to make room for a new building with twice the footprint.
Melissa Renee Schumacher—The Tech

Novartis and MIT announced Wednesday that MIT has leased four parcels of land just north of the MIT campus to Novartis. Novartis will increase its space by at least 400,000 square feet, and invest $600 million for construction of laboratory and office space, as well as ground floor retail space.

The four land parcels are: MIT Building N42, at 211 Massachusetts Avenue, which is used by Information Services and Technology (IS&T) Helpdesk; the parking lot adjacent to N42 on the corner of Windsor and State Streets; the former Analog Devices building, at 21 Osborne Street; and the parking lot between the Analog Devices building and Mass. Ave.

Novartis may or may not demolish the Analog Devices building, which was vacated about a year ago, Novartis spokesman Jeffrey Lockwood said. Novartis may or may not build a single building covering the parking lot and the Analog Devices building. Novartis will not demolish N42, a short brick building with parapets and cupolas.

Novartis’s lease will last at least 60 years, according to MIT. Construction is scheduled to begin sometime in 2011, though there are no design plans yet, and an architect has not been selected, said Novartis spokesman Jeffrey Lockwood.

The expansion takes place just across the street from Novartis’ existing facility, that includes buildings at 186 Mass. Ave (the gay club Paradise), as well as 220 and 250 Mass Ave. (the former NECCO factory). Those comprise about 585,000 square feet, Lockwood said. Novartis also has facilities in Tech Square, Kendall Square, and other parts of Cambridge, which total 1.2 million square feet.

In an open letter to MIT President Susan J. Hockfield last week (see pg. 6), Cambridge City Councillor and former mayor Kenneth E. Reeves criticized MIT’s stewardship of properties between the campus and Central Square, highlighting the empty retail space at the Central Square Theatre, and complaining that the Novartis deal had not been mentioned to the city government in advance. Steven C. Marsh, managing director for real estate at the MIT Investment Management Company, is responsible for these arrangements, and Reeves targetted him in his letter.

According to Reeves, new retail establishments of Central Bottle and Flour, which are now tenants of Novartis, had failed to negotiate leases from MIT in similar space,because MIT asked $45 per square foot, twice as much as Novartis.

Marsh declined to speak to The Tech, saying in a statement that MIT “will continue to work closely with the [Cambridge City] Council, the city administration, and our neighbors.”

Hockfield is in the process of replying to Reeves’ letter, the MIT News Office said.

The new complex is expected to add 300 new jobs, Novartis said.

The $600 million investment is substantial. For comparison, the Ray and Maria Stata Center (Building 32) cost around $300 million (estimates vary); and the new David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research (Building 76), which is just being completed, cost about $250 million.

The IS&T computing helpdesk will relocate from building N42 to buildings E17 and E19, the News Office said. Some other IS&T staff in N42 will move to buildings W91 and W92.