Cushman & Wakefield Releases Q4 Greater Boston Statistics

Cushman & Wakefield today released its year-end market research that tracks the performance of the commercial real estate market in Boston, Cambridge and the suburbs.

2017 was the year of the big deal in Boston, but fundamentals still appear statistically flat. Vacancy has declined only 10 basis points (bps), availability is down a percentage point and absorption ended the year at just over 300,000 square feet (SF).  On paper, this does not look like a year of banner transactions, because buildings under construction do not count in statistics until they deliver.  PTC, Alexion, Rapid7, Boston Consulting Group, Digitas and WeWork will occupy a collective 1.1 million square feet (MSF) of new space in the next 24 months, figures that will be reflected in statistics upon delivery of their respective buildings.

In Cambridge, 2017 was another year of the same narrative. At 2.8% and 1.0%, respectively, both office and lab vacancies are effectively non-existent.  Rents are at their zenith – in the high $70s to mid-$80s PSF (NNN in lab buildings). And while annual spikes of 10% to 15% have subsided, rents still grew 2% in 2017. As a result, available space is rarely marketed in Cambridge – everything is done by word of mouth – and is typically leased before a marketing plan can be put into action.

In the suburbs, life sciences and new construction are still the prevailing themes. Excluding renewals, nearly 1.0 MSF of new life science leases were signed in suburban buildings in 2017. This is in addition to the 1.0 MSF of new life science leases signed in 2016 – that’s the equivalent of two Prudential Towers’ worth of new suburban life science deals executed in the past 24 months.


  • Back Bay underwent a very rapid change in dynamics this quarter – a year ago, the story was the disconnect between availabilities and asking rents. Availability (at over 20%) was the highest it had been since 1989. And asking rents, approaching $70 PSF, were also at historical highs.
  • In the past 90 days, Back Bay has seen nearly 350,000 SF of new leases signed (led by Wayfair’s lease of State Street’s sublease availability at Copley) with another four deals totaling 750,000 at LOI and expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.
  • The surge in demand from incoming tenants and existing tenant expansion means that landlords are recalibrating rents. They’ve increased 2.0% just in the past 90 days.
  • We expect 2018 will be a banner year in Boston – 121 Seaport Boulevard, 120 Causeway, Pier 4 and the newly renovated 40 Water Street are all scheduled to deliver. These four buildings will add 1.1 MSF of new, occupied space to the market.
  • And finally, we have begun to monitor WeWork as a competitive landlord. The co-working firm has started marketing large blocks of space on the sublease market. As a brokerage firm, we see these availabilities as legitimate, competitive options for our larger clients.  In just over four years, WeWork has leased over 500,000 SF in Boston and Cambridge.  We expect that footprint to grow significantly in 2018.


  • In the lab sector, vacancy in the Mass Ave Corridor is literally 0.0%, while neighboring East Cambridge closed 2017 at 0.6% vacant. There is currently over 750,000 SF of pent-up demand for lab space in Cambridge, so it does not appear conditions will change any time in the immediate future.
  • Shared space models are not just for office tenants anymore. Mass Innovation Labs, a turnkey lab space provider, signed three leases this quarter, including a 12-year, 52,000 square foot deal at 21 Erie Street in the Mass Avenue Corridor.
    • Mass Innovation Labs’ other leases include 54,000 SF at 6 Tide Street in the Seaport and 84,000 SF at Boston Landing’s 40 Guest Street in Brighton.
  • In the office sector, Alexandria’s 417,000-SF 100 Binney Street delivered this quarter. The property was preleased to Facebook (130,000 SF) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (250,000 SF).
    • Other notable office deals of the quarter include Zpark’s commitment to 66,000 SF at 1000 Massachusetts Avenue and Harvard IT’s 63,000 SF lease at 784 Memorial Drive.
    • At 105 Broadway, MIT, the Broad Institute and Draper Labs sublet a collective 86,000 SF of space formerly occupied by Biogen.


  • At nearly 2.1 MSF, the suburbs ended 2017 with absorption fundamentals not seen since year-end 2007.
    • In the office sector, absorption totaled 1.1 MSF. Significant leases contributing to this figure include:
      • The fourth quarter delivery of 350,000-square–foot 400 Wheeler Road in Burlington (100% preleased to EMD Millipore)
      • The fourth quarter delivery of 89 A Street, Needham. The 247,000 SF building was 71% preleased to home appliance manufacturer SharkNinja
      • Dana Farber’s 140,000 SF lease at 300 Boylston Street in Newton (Q2)
      • Bose (98,000 SF), Proteostasis (30,000 SF) and Roche’s (30,000 SF) leases at 80 Guest Street in Brighton (Q3)
      • Aetna’s 80,000 SF lease at 93 Worcester Road in Wellesley (Q4)
      • Tesaro’s 80,000 SF lease at 1100 Winter Street, Waltham (Q4)
      • Ab Initio’s 71,000 SF lease at 191 Spring Street, Lexington (Q4)
  • In the R&D sector, absorption totaled 943,000 SF. Significant leases contributing to this figure include:
    • Integra Life Science (104,000 SF) and I-Automation’s (66,000 SF) leases at 11 Cabot Boulevard, Mansfield (Q3)
    • Concert Pharmaceuticals (60,000 SF) lease at 65 Hayden Avenue, Lexington
    • UPS’s 96,000 SF lease at 40 Fordham Road, Wilmington (Q1)
    • Drone company Cyphy Works 52,000 SF lease at 16 Electronics Avenue, Danvers (Q4)
    • Translate Bio’s (formerly RaNA Therapeutics) 57,000 SF lease at 29 Hartwell Avenue, Lexington (Q3)

About Cushman & Wakefield

Cushman & Wakefield is a leading global real estate services firm with 45,000 employees in more than 70 countries helping occupiers and investors optimize the value of their real estate. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest commercial real estate services firms with revenue of $6 billion across core services of agency leasing, asset services, capital markets, facility services (C&W Services), global occupier services, investment & asset management (DTZ Investors), project & development services, tenant representation, and valuation & advisory. To learn more, visit or follow @CushWake on Twitter.


By | 2017-12-23T15:05:04+00:00 December 27th, 2017|In the News, News|