A Urban Renewal: The Development of Life Sciences in the South End

Spotlight: What’s happening to the former Boston Flower Exchange?

When we think of the South End, the first thing that comes to mind are open studio, lofts, local restaurants, SOWA’s open market, dog parks…but never science.

If you have driven by former Boston Flower Exchange lately, only steps from 88 Wareham, you may have noticed the once lively area has suddenly lacked activity. The Flower Exchange, in late 2017, had officially moved out of the South End and into a new space in Chelsea. Having been around since 1909, the Boston Flower Exchange, has had various homes in the South End. However, since 1970 to 2017, the Boston Flower Exchange has resided on Albany Street.

Some individuals have concurred that it was about time for these aged warehouses to move-out and situate in a more fitting environment. These warehouses have premier locations in the city and developers are looking to acquire additional land in these prime locations.

The site of former Boston Flower Exchange had been purchased by The Abbey Group in 2017.  The Abbey Group has extensive plans to re-develop this premier area as part of their “Urban Renewal” initiative. Their extensive plan is summarized to be the development of 5.6 acres of a life science complex for the greater Boston area. The location is only a few miles away from Kendall Square which is known to be the nucleus of Boston’s biotech industry.

As mentioned by Tim Logan, reporter from the Boston Globe, “A huge development that could transform an old corner of the South End is poised to win key city approvals Thursday night.” Catherine Carlock, Real Estate Editor from the Boston Business Journal, noted the proposed project will feature 840,810 square feet of laboratory space, 640,540 square feet of office space, and 42,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space. The site will include underground parking for a total of 1,145 parking spaces. The project is forecasted to provide 4,000 – 7,000 jobs to the unfrequented fragment of the neighborhood between Albany Street and the Southeast Expressway.

Currently, there has not been any dialogue regarding residential, but Boston is growing, and eventually everything old will get replaced by a contemporary development.

The hearing at the Boston Planning & Development Agency will take place Thursday night, followed by a vote. The Abbey Group executives have declined to be interviewed ahead of Thursday’s vote, but with odds on their side, we can’t help but to wonder what happens next?

melissa flamburis