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BEDFORD, MA-Boston Properties has secured one of the larger and more sought-after leasing requirements of 2007, as technology firm iRobot signed a 12-year agreement for 157,000 sf at 8 Crosby Dr. The property, also known as the Bedford Business Park, had previously been occupied by Abbott Laboratories.

The pact is evidence of burgeoning interest for space in the Route 128 North office submarket, according to Jon Varholak, a principal at Richards Barry Joyce & Partners. The region “is home to a host of emerging and existing technology companies,” adds Varholak, who negotiated the lease for the tenant along with RBJ colleague John Wilson. Boston Properties was represented in-house by SVP David Provost, VP Stacey Baker, SVP Jim Rosenfeld and project manager Richard Monopoli.

Getting iRobot to make such a long-term commitment to the property and the region required a broad-based effort, says Monopoli. He praised state economic officials, the Massachusetts Highway Department, the town of Bedford and the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management for playing critical roles in that mission.

After an extensive search of the market, iRobot selected Bedford Business Park for a variety of reasons, Varholak explains, including quick access to the expanded Route 3 corridor, the pedigree of the landlord, and a competitive tenant fit-out allowance. Besides iRobot’s headquarters, Boston Properties will make upgrades to the complex overall, including a new facade on 8 Crosby Dr. The parties did not provide information on rental rates for the deal.

The deal at Bedford Business Center takes away another sizeable leasing opportunity for the Route 128 North submarket, one which RBJ research shows running out of space by the end of 2010 should the current pace of demand continue. Although the recent sale of the Sun Microsystems campus in Burlington is expected to free up a six-figure block of contiguous space, several hefty tenants are circulating in Route 128 North, including Phase Forward and Palomar Medical Technologies.

According to RBJ, the Route 128 North office submarket of 24.1 million sf does have a substantial vacancy rate of 22%, but velocity has been solid for a prolonged stretch, with more than 900,000 sf of positive net absorption registered between the mid-year marks of 2006 and 2007. The second quarter was especially robust, with net absorption on the plus side by 316,000 sf.

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