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Developer of Galen Street Life Science Building Hopeful of Filling Space as Industry Improves

One of Watertown’s newest life science buildings remains unoccupied, but the developer of the building south of the Charles River believes the trends are looking better in the industry and hopes to have tenants in the near future.

Members of the public got a look inside of 66 Galen Street in late February during an event hosted by the Charles River Regional Chamber, and there will be another chance (a free one) to visit the building in early April.

Jodie Zussman, President and CEO of Boston Development Group, said the company saw the rising prospects of Watertown as a life science hub. The project was a long effort but she is pleased with the final result.

“It’s exactly what we envisioned. It’s exactly what we promised the Watertown Planning Department,” said Zussman, who noted the project finished on time and on budget. “From start to finish it’s been 2-3 years in the making: assembling the land, buying all these different parcels and putting it together, getting the zoning change, getting all the approvals.”

A view of the lobby of 66 Galen Street during a recent Charles River Regional Chamber event. (Photo by Elisif Brandon)

The project was Boston Development group’s first foray into life science development, so they teamed with Davis Companies, a venture partner with experience creating space for biotechs.

“My father () who started the company in the ’50s, passed away a few years ago. This was his swan song,” Jodie said. “He wanted this to be a statement piece. He said, ‘Hire the best architect, hire the best (project manager), the best contractor, and let’s have the best building,’ and I believe that’s what we did.”

The floors where life science labs are planned to go are currently just concrete walls and pillars, but other parts have been finished, including the lobby, the gym and the rooftop deck.

A view from the roof of 66 Galen Street. (Photo by Elisif Brandon)

Zussman is hopeful that the life science industry will bounce back soon, after stalling in the post-pandemic economy.

“It seems like the market is coming back and it seems like there is going to be more (venture capital) money out there this year than there has been the last few years,” she said.

The life science climate has changed, Zussman said, and 66 Galen will adjust to meet the desires of companies.

“We’re doing four spec suites on the second floor. We are just waiting for the permit to build them out,” Zussman said. “They should be done by about November and at that point we are hoping that more tenants are looking for something they can move right into.”

The building is the first part of the life science development. Boston Development Group also owns the building at 51 Water Street, and plans have been approved to build a second life science building there. Zussman said the permit has been extended by a couple of years, and construction will begin on that project once 66 Galen Street is 80 percent leased.

That section of Galen Street may see more changes. Some have already started, such as the . The MBTA’s bus shed may be going away to make way for housing and or office space, .

The park and pathway built as part of the 66 Galen Street project. (Photo by Elisif Brandon)

The public can get a look inside 66 Galen Street during the next public meeting. The event on Thursday, April 4, 2024, begins at 6:30 p.m. at 66 Galen St., Watertown.