CAMBRIDGE, MA—Much like the surrounding East Cambridge business district, One Kendall Square is being reinvented once again, this time thanks to a $10 million makeover of the 676,000-sf multi-use park. Incorporating a design from Elkus/Manfredi Architects Ltd., the Beal Cos. and Rockwood Capital Corp. will upgrade landscaping and signage, as well as facades and lobbies at a nine-building complex whose commercial legacy dates to 1887 when constructed as a plant to manufacture fire hoses.

“It has been our vision since we purchased the property to unify the spaces and provide a sense of place, tying each of the buildings together,” explains Stephen Faber, VP of asset management for the Beal Cos., a Boston-based real estate firm that acquired One Kendall Sq. with Rockwood in April 2006 for $210 million. Money will also be deployed to modernize the mechanical and technological infrastructure, says Faber. His firm apprised One Kendall Sq. tenants and brokers of the ambitious program at an on-site presentation prior to the public announcement.

The overhaul is occurring just as Cambridge’s core office market launches a corresponding rebirth, emerging perhaps stronger than ever after being rocked during the most recent regional recession. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, the availability rate for Cambridge’s 16.1 million-sf inventory is down to 10.2% from a high of 24% reached in 2003. The average rental rate has recovered to $34.24 per sf for office space after plunging into the $20′s per sf, with East Cambridge continuing to lead the way.

Aided by a location in the heart of that 12-million-sf district, One Kendall Sq. has retained a strong tenant roster, attracting the likes of Genzyme Corp., Idenix Pharmaceuticals and PricewaterhouseCoopers. There have been several ownership changes, however, with predecessors to Beal/Rockwood including Beacon Capital Partners, Lincoln Property Co. and JE Robert Co. The 10-acre park was originally restored in the 1980s after Boston’s office building boom made Cambridge’s industrial wasteland a viable alternative for high-end office and laboratory users. One Kendall Sq. offers space for both functions. There is also a mix of entertainment, retail and restaurants, a nine-screen independent movie theater and 1,500-vehicle parking garage.

The restoration will be the first major investment of the complex in nearly 20 years, according to the owners, and will be focused on a seven-building block south of Binney St. Boston-based Elkus/Manfredi, a nationally known practice familiar with all three primary uses at One Kendall Sq., is making the space more comfortable for occupants and attractive to both clients and potential tenants, says Faber. The One Kendall Sq. name will remain the same, but a new logo and branding is being created as part of the park’s new millennium platform.

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