BWH to build tower on Emmanuel campus

February 10, 2012
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LMA—Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is working with Emmanuel College to build and lease a 150-foot tower as part of Emmanuel’s “endowment campus.”

The proposed tower would create 360,000 square feet for medical research and support space on Avenue Louis Pasteur. It would also move the 355 parking spaces currently on the site underground into a garage.

The “glass-box” style tower would be 75 feet tall curbside, with a taller section reaching 150 feet at the rear of the site. It would also offer covered bicycle parking to further encourage BWH employees to not drive. BWH already subsidizes employee transit passes for the same purpose.

Construction in 2019 or 2020 is most likely, said BWH Vice President of Support Services Arthur Mombourquette.

The project would consolidate BWH-leased space all over the Longwood Medical Area (LMA), as well as create much-needed additional research facilities, Mombourquette said at a recent LMA Forum meeting.

“In the long run, it’s cheaper to build your own” than to lease, he said.

Merck Research Labs has such a tower on the Emmanuel campus, on the corner of Blackfan Circle and Blackfan Street. Emmanuel has set aside that corner of their campus for other ground lease projects and is calling the area their “endowment campus.”

A ground lease is when a company leases a plot of land for a long period of time—Merck has a 75-year lease with Emmanuel—then builds on that land. At the end of the lease, the land and the building belong to the lessor.

Ground leasing is used to generate the necessary income to finance construction projects. The BWH project would provide enough to cover Emmanuel’s construction for the next 10 years, including a new dormitory and an expansion of the library.

Emmanuel’s “endowment campus” includes three such properties—the Merck tower; Parcel A, also currently leased to Merck; and Parcel C, the proposed site for BWH’s tower. Emmanuel College is located on the Fenway between Avenue Louis Pasteur and Brookline Avenue.

BWH currently leases some space from Emmanuel—about 50,000 square feet—for research and office space.

BWH is seeking an amendment to its Institutional Master Plan (IMP) to include the development of the tower.

An IMP is a comprehensive development plan that describes an institution’s existing facilities, long-range planning goals and proposed projects. The institution must update and renew its IMP periodically and must amend it whenever it adds or changes any project significantly. The IMP serves as zoning approval for all its projects.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel College’s plan to possibly ground lease Parcel A sometime in the next decade has changed: Emmanuel now plans to reintegrate it into its academic campus.

Parcel A is currently leased to Merck and has been serving as ground-level parking, Sister Anne Mary Donovan, Emmanuel’s treasurer, told the Gazette last week.

“Merck was planning to sublet it…They weren’t planning to do anything with it,” she said. “We didn’t want someone we didn’t know using it.”

The Catholic university imposes one major restriction on any lessees: no research that relies on abortions.

“We make that very clear, that [any lessees] have to respect Catholic tradition. We’ve very strong about that,” Donovan previously told the Gazette.

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