Traffic and Infrastructure Problems Can't Keep Companies Out of the Seaport

The Seaport has been getting a bad rap. Whether they’re complaining about the traffic, an absence of any meaningful public transportation, or the slow build-out of practical amenities – like supermarkets, for instance – for neighborhood residents, Seaport contrarians are everywhere, making the case that companies might look elsewhere for office space.

The public transportation critiques are quite valid, as the only MBTA line servicing the Seaport is Silver. But beyond that, contrarians ignore a couple significant realities in their Seaport finger-pointing. First, on the traffic argument, this is Boston: bad traffic is everywhere here. Drive anywhere in Boston starting at 4 p.m. and you’ll quickly notice that traffic troubles are not unique to the Seaport.

But more importantly, critics of the Seaport ignore the fact that companies of all sizes continue to flock to the district. This ongoing migration has caused large blocks of vacant office space to evaporate from the market, leaving few options for large users who want to be in the Seaport. Here are a few examples:

  • 121 Seaport, which was fully 100% uncommitted on Labor Day, is now fully leased by two tenants (PTC and Alexion) — occupying more than 400,000 SF of spec space in the building.
  • Vivint claimed the last remaining floor at 101 Seaport – a total of 25,000 SF – bringing the building to 100% occupancy.
  • Tenants seeking more than 100,000 SF have limited options today. 140 Northern Avenue recently signed a letter of intent for 140,000 SF, leaving only 15,000 SF available. Other large-scale new construction projects (like 2 Drydock) are not slated to be delivered until Q4 2019.
  • Skanska, which has had success building on spec at 101 Seaport and 121 Seaport, is now committed to building 2 Drydock Avenue without an anchor tenant in place. Other projects, like 88 Seaport Boulevard from WS Development, are less likely to be built on spec and will await an anchor tenant to be in place before starting construction.

Throughout the Seaport, tenants continue to find value and legitimacy in new construction space. More efficient floor plates and a blank canvas allow tenants to make the space their own and validate the decision to move to the Seaport with benefits like talent acquisition and retention.

Tenants, both homegrown and from abroad, are mostly ignoring the naysayers and coming in droves to the Seaport. Until we see signs of a slow-down across the market – which we haven’t seen any remote signs of yet – don’t expect the Seaport to cool off anytime soon.

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