SELDC Approves Proposed Life Science Building at 80 E. Berkeley St.

The change of use for the previously approved building at 80 East Berkeley St. was approved by the South End Landmark District Commission (SELDC) on June 7.

Ronald Druker of the Druker Company said that “we went through a long community process” eight years ago to approve the demolition of the existing auto repair shop and erect an 11 story mixed-use building that included office space.

“Since that time,” he said, the team has decided to pursue office and life science space, which forced them to submit a Notice of Project Change to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), which was filed in January of this year.

The proposed building will feature more than 20 percent public open space, as well as an “affordable community/innovation/educational/cultural/civic space,” according to a slide presented at the hearing.

Architect Steve Dube explained that the proposed building “has frontage on East Berkeley, Shawmut, and Washington St.,” and the ground floor will feature retail as well as the affordable community space and the lobby. The streetscape is also similar to what had previously been approved.

The building will have 200 parking spaces, which can be accessed via a head house on Washington St., he said. He reiterated several times that the “project is almost identical to the approved project,” but due to the change in use, it must receive approvals again.

One change that was made is that there is now one less story proposed. The building is now proposed to be a 10 story building rather than an 11 story building, but the height will remain the same at 150 feet. “Each of those floors has been slightly stretched,” Dube said.

The life science portion of the building will feature labs only with biosafety levels one and two, and nothing higher than that, the team said.

The team also said that City Council President Ed Flynn, State Rep. Jon Santiago, and State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz have all expressed support for this project.

“I guess we can’t do anything about the height,” said Commissioner Catherine Hunt, adding that this will be “welcoming another high rise into the neighborhood.”

Commissioner John Freeman said that “I think it meets everything in our list for the protection area,” adding that the “context is consistent with other approvals.”

The Commission also expressed concern about filling the space and whether or not this is actually something that is needed.

The team said that there is “great interest in the area” for life science space, and while they do not currently have any tenants lined up, they are “very comfortable moving forward.”

The SELDC voted to approve the project as submitted.

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