Four years after it was conceived, Telecom City finally has a tenant. Sort of.In an announcement that caught proponents of the 200-acre technology park off guard, an Internet service provider known as HarvardNet said this week that it would be the first company to relocate into the complex. The firm has signed an 87,000-sf lease at One Cabot Rd. in Medford, one of three cities where the planned 1.4 million-sf park will be located. “Moving to a larger facility inside Telecom City not only supports our growth plans for the future, it also allows us to take advantage of the park’s focus on the telecommunications industry,” HarvardNet CEO Mark Washburn says.

The only problem is One Cabot Rd. is not actually in Telecom City, and the Mystic Valley Development Commission that was formed to make the park a reality expressed surprise at the proclamation. Owned by Berkeley Investments, the site is close to the park, but has no official connection to the venture, says MVDC spokeswoman Deborah Burke.

Even with the mix up, MVDC sees some benefits in HarvardNet’s decision. Besides having an established Internet service provider trumpeting the potential of Telecom City, and bringing more than 300 professionals into the area, Everett Mayor David Ragucci says the deal underscore’s the park’s potential.

HarvardNet “is right at the fringe of Telecom City, and I’m sure we’ll have tenants like that knocking down the doors once we get a building there,” says Ragucci, who also serves as MVDC chairperson. “It shows that this thing is really starting to come together.”

Indeed, even without HarvardNet’s input, there is finally movement at the park, which has languished at times while the MVDC sought funding for infrastructure improvements and a private partner to guide the project along. Last month, for example, Preotle Lane signed a memorandum of understanding that will have the New York-based firm serving as lead developer of the park. The company also received $27.6 million from the state three weeks ago that will be used to repair dilapidated roadways through the park, as well as to fund eminent domain acquisitions of properties.

“I wish we were starting tomorrow,” says principal John Preotle, adding that his firm would like to get moving while the economy remains strong. Ragucci says the first taking can be completed within the next 60 days, while Preotle says he is optimistic that the initial building, slated for four stories and 110,000-sf, could be underway by early 2001. “There’s a lot of progress,” says Preotle. “We’re not there yet, but we are getting there.”

In the meantime, there is one technology-related project underway in the park, although the plan by Essex Capital Partners to convert a warehouse into a telecommunications switch hotel is also not within the purview of the MVDC. Nonetheless, Essex is touting it as such, calling the 160,000-sf project Internet City at Telecom City. Calls to Essex were not returned, but Burke explained it is one of the few buildings that will remain once Telecom City is fully built out.

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