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BURLINGTON, MA-Norwest Park–a 285-acre mixed-use development–has been designated by the state and Gov. Deval Patrick as one of the state’s 16 key Growth Districts. The Growth District moniker points to the state’s initiative to create jobs and economic development throughout the Bay State. The mixed-use project is being developed by the locally-based Nordblom Co.

“The Growth District designation provides a tremendous boost to Northwest Park as it puts [the] location on a list of pre-permitted, shovel-ready development sites within Massachusetts,” says Todd Fremont-Smith, SVP of development for Nordblom Co., in a statement.

The project is zoned for mixed-use, planned for office and retail, off the Middlesex Turnpike here. The development will transform an existing office park into a spacious community made-up of class A office/R&D, retail, restaurants, residential units, a boutique hotel and public green space. Fremont-Smith estimates a total cost roughly at $500 million, but adds that, “[Northwest Park] project is more than evolution, like most large projects anywhere, it’s going to get built-out over 10 to 15 years. So, we’re looking at this on a more incremental, evolutionary process.”

Recently, Palomar Medical Technologies signed on to take a 130,000-square-foot built-to-suit building with the option of adding a separate 50,000-square-foot building. Palomar purchased 8.35 acres of fully-permitted land–for $10.7 million–where the building is to be constructed for roughly $35 million to $37 million. The building will break ground next week and will deliver in early 2010.

Fremont-Smith explains to GlobeSt.com, “We still have two more building sites at that particular end of the campus, so we’re trying to take this on a deal-by-deal basis and let the market drive this process. As opposed to force this project on a market that may not be ready for it.” He explains, “The mixed-use zoning allows us to respond to the portions of the market which are doing well and to wait for the markets that are not doing so well, to catch up.”

The development will be broken up into the integrated mixed-use areas with some of the office set off at the northern-end of the campus, where the developers are looking for several large office tenants ranging from 400,000 square feet and up. Fremont-Smith points out that there are a number of companies which are “looking through the recession” or are anticipating leases that are burning off, while aiming to consolidate parts of their companies under a single roof.

“On the retail side, I think we still see and incremental growth,” he says. “I’m not sure the market, today, needs half-a-million square feet of retail. But the market in Burlington is always ready for the organic, high-quality retail growth that we’re pursuing.” Like all developers, he notes, Nordblom faces challenges in this economic environment, but adding, “We have a very long-range, public view.”

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