The Real Reporter – By Joe Clements
MEDFORD—TeleCom City is a fading memory, but 200 acres set aside for that ill fated business park straddling Everett, Malden and Medford will soon accommodate promising life sciences company Progenika in a 9,000-sf deal that seems to validate the tri-town revitalization campaign launched more than a decade ago in partnership with New York entity Preotle Lane.
Officials at Cambridge-based Progenika acknowledge the firm has leased 9,000 sf of laboratory and office space at Building 200 of River’s Edge, the mixed-use complex into which TeleCom City evolved after plans for a tech-centric commercial park were dashed by that industry’s thunderous collapse in 2001. Besides 400,000 sf of office space that will be constructed, River’s Edge also features modern residential options and an expansive recreational area. Progenika CFO Michael Bohan says that diversity was among the attractions luring his firm away from the life sciences epicenter in Kendall Square.
“It was a great match for us,” says Bohan, providing the firm an intermediary solution that delivers rental relief from core Cambridge pricing plus the amenities sought by a skilled employee base. Besides plentiful parking and nearby public transportation, Bohan says the on-site fitness center and cafeteria and 10 acres of landscaped fitness trails should help compete for staffers. “It’s very tranquil,” he says of the park exterior, including frontage along the Malden River. Progenika is also proud to be in an environmentally reclaimed property, adds Bohan, with the sustainability of the 200 acres further enhanced by Building 200’s designation as a LEED Gold certified structure.
Aided by broker Debra Stevens of ITRA/Stevens Group, Progenika assessed buildings from Watertown to Woburn before settling on River’s Edge. Although viable prospects such as Trade Center 128 in Woburn—another LEED Gold building— were carefully considered, he says River’s Edge ultimately fit the company’s needs best. The attentive, experienced nature of Preotle Lane in courting the firm was also comforting in striking the seven-year lease, adds Bohan, whose firm inked an agreement that contains expansion options going forward.
“It was a delight to deal with them,” concurs Stevens of the landlord. She also cites an efficient design of Building 200 and the ability to mix the laboratory and office space together, with a ratio of approximately 40 percent to 60 percent for those respective uses. The US subsidiary of a Spanish conglomerate, Progenika is involved in genetic testing and will use the property for both research and administration functions.
Landlord Matthew Preotle voices equal exuberance at the signing of Progenika from that side of the table, and agrees the tenant lives up to the vision of his father, John Preotle, whose initial commitment to redeveloping the parcel has endured multiple peaks and valleys due to the fickle economy that has dogged New England for the past 10 years.
Having endured the latest crash to somehow get the four-story, 115,000-sf Building 200 constructed, a signing of Marriott Corp. to lease the top floor last year showed River’s Edge could attract a high-end company, notes Matthew Preotle, and he says Progenika underscores that the property can also be a solution for cutting edge, new-age companies such as those in the life sciences arena. “In a lot of ways, they are the perfect tenant for us,” says Matthew Preotle. “What they are doing is very exciting, and it’s great to see that type of a company considering us . . . We hope to see many more like them coming out here.”
Matthew Preotle also credits the brokerage guidance from Stevens on the tenant side and the exclusive leasing team for River’s Edge that includes Grubb & Ellis professionals Philip Giunta, Ann Newman Foley and George Nugent. “They worked really hard to get this done,” says Matthew Preotle, voicing further encouragement by an increase of prospects touring the property in recent months, even as the summer vacation season eases the activity back to a more languid pace. There is plenty of work on the fit out of the Progenika space in the meantime, however, with that firm slated to be in by early November.
The company is expanding from about 6,000 sf, and is using Preotle Lane’s in house architect, Gensler, for the fit out assignment.