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As if they did not already have enough to deal with, Boston Properties is at it again. The real estate investment trust is pushing ahead with a major office project in suburban Boston, with company officials acknowledging that they are planning a 300,000-sf building at the site of a former oil tank farm. Chestnut Hill-based W/S Development is also a partner in the deal.

“It’s a terrific location for a first-class office building,” says a broker familiar with the property on Jones Road. The source also maintains that the development will be well-received by companies scrambling to find adequate quarters. “The marketplace needs the space,” says the source. “In all areas, we are badly undersupplied.”

Nowhere is that more true than in Waltham, considered the most desirable office destination in the suburbs. With a 4.7% vacancy rate, according to Meredith & Grew, the 20-million-sf Route 128/Mass Pike submarket has barely 900,000 sf available, and virtually nothing contiguous over 50,000 sf. After beginning the year with rental rates in the mid-$30 per sf range, Waltham is now commanding rents above $50 per sf.

Boston Properties Senior Vice President Claude Hoopes says that because several projects under construction have already leased up, the effective vacancy rate for Waltham is between 2% to 3%. When the Waltham Weston Corporate Center is completed in 15 months, Hoopes believes the six-story building will be well on its way to being fully committed.”It’s going to be one of the only games in town in that submarket over the next 24 months,” he says. “It’s just an incredibly tight market.”Hoopes says Boston Properties has the capacity to construct another building at the development, adding that the firm had mulled increasing the initial phase to between 375,000 sf and 425,000 sf before opting to focus on one structure for the time being. ADD Inc. of Cambridge is the architect.

Boston Properties has kept the lid on the project thus far, but Hoopers says the company is about to launch an extensive marketing program. He also confirmed that Trammell Crow has been selected as exclusive leasing agent, with Brian Hines, John Boyle and David Campbell lined up to handle the assignment.

Even with such a hefty chunk of space, the Jones Road developers should attract attention, agrees Scott R. Hughes, a veteran broker familiar with the Waltham area. “There are a lot of people with very large requirements” in the market, Hughes says, adding that the Jones Road parcel has the visibility and access to make it a sought-after destination. “It’s a good location,” says Hughes. “I think they will do well with it.”

Flush with cash since converting to a public company three years ago, Boston Properties has wasted little time putting that capital in play. It is one of the few REITs to focus on development, with current projects including a 36-story, 865,000-sf office tower in downtown Boston. The firm is also about to begin work on a 340,000-sf office development in Weston at a property it acquired earlier this year for $17 million. Located at the junction of Route 128 and Route 20, that project is a short distance from the Jones Road parcel.

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