New stores and homes will soon rise on the site of the former Building 19½ on Route 3A in Burlington, continuing the recent surge of activity to the town’s already bustling economy.
Workers began demolishing the four vacant buildings on the approximately 7-acre property on March 13 to make way for the mixed-use development.
Duffy Properties has received town approvals to construct 48,000 square feet of retail space and 29 residential units on the site, according to Steven P. Duffy, a principal of the Waltham-based firm.
Town Manager John Petrin said the project will bring to the downtown some of the economic development Burlington has enjoyed in its retail and office districts.
“We actually abut the property,” he said, noting that Town Hall, the Fire Department headquarters, and the Burlington Town Common are all in close proximity. “We look forward to this project really taking that eyesore away.”
Petrin said the development also will provide new restaurants and stores that are easily accessible to those who work in the area. “We don’t really have much to walk to here,” he said.
Waltham-based Duffy is a family-owned business that developed, owns, and manages about 500 apartments in Woburn and Waltham, and 1.5 million square feet of commercial space in 17 buildings in Burlington, Lexington, and Waltham, including three office buildings on Route 128 in Burlington.
The firm acquired the Route 3A site in early 2015 for $7 million from Building 19, which had vacated its store in late 2014. In addition to the two buildings that were used by the discount chain, the site included two buildings leased to other retailers.
“This is on a well-traveled road and Burlington is a good market to be in,” Duffy said. “If you go up and down the Middlesex Turnpike and [Burlington] with all the development going on, I think Burlington is very good place to do business in.”
The residential units will be housed in a single building. The retail space, including restaurants, will be located in two other buildings.
The demolition is expected to take about a month, with construction targeted to begin this summer. Duffy said the firm hopes to begin occupancy of the residences in April 2018, and the commercial units that May or June.
The development comes as a number of other projects have been completed or are underway in Burlington.
Among the highlights, MilliporeSigma, a German-owned life sciences equipment manufacturer, is building a $115 million campus on Wheeler Road to serve as its North American headquarters. Set to open later this year, the 115,000 square foot facility will be a welcome addition because it gives Burlington a presence in the life sciences industry, Petrin said.
Microsoft, meanwhile, several months ago relocated some of its sales and marketing staff to leased space off Wayside Road.
Two new hotels are under construction: a Residence Marriott Inn in The District, on Burlington Mall Road; and the Archer Hotel in the 3d Ave portion of Northwest Park, off the Middlesex Turnpike. A Lifetime Fitness Center is also being built in that mixed-use section of the business park, which includes stores, restaurants, and residential apartments and is anchored by a Wegmans supermarket.
In other development activity, the Davis Companies is is seeking permits to build 270 apartments at the Center at Corporate Drive off Route 3A under the state’s affordable housing law. Lahey Hospital & Medical Center recently opened a new $80 million emergency center off Burlington Mall Road.
“There is a lot going on,” Petrin said.
He said the town’s location at the juncture of Route 128 and Route 3, coupled with the commercial base it already has developed, helps Burlington continue to be a magnet for businesses and jobs.
“We probably have the largest concentration of business outside the Boston-Cambridge area. We are kind of the hub of the 128 area,” said Petrin, who noted that Burlington enjoys the largest ratio of jobs to residents in the state: roughly 40,000 jobs to 25,000 inhabitants.
Robert Buckley, a local real estate attorney who with Petrin serves on the board of the Middlesex 3 Coalition — a collaborative effort among Burlington and eight other communities to promote their shared Route 3 corridor — said Burlington benefits from its location but also deserves some credit for zoning and other initiatives it has undertaken to attract prospective development.
“Burlington has had the ability to anticipate the emerging trends and to try and stay ahead of those trends,” he said.