Public Meeting Attendees Ponder Life Science Building

An 11-story life science building proposed for 222 Friend St. in the West End was the subject at hand during a city-sponsored public meeting held virtually on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

KS Partners intends to raze an existing three-story commercial building, with a 32-space surface parking lot, and replace it with a building comprising approximately 162,000 square feet of gross floor area. The new building would stand approximately 180 feet tall, including a 12-foot mechanical penthouse surrounded by acoustic screening and set back from the main structure.

While no parking would be provided due to the site’s convenient access to a variety of public-transit options, the project includes plans for 72 bike spaces (comprising 64 employee spaces and eight visitor spots), as well as for the creation a fully enclosed loading area on the ground level. The project will also incorporate numerous public-realm enhancements, including a reduction in paved area; the widening of adjacent sidewalks; the addition of urban landscape elements; and the creation of new ground-floor retail spaces on Portland Street and at the corner of Friend Street and Valenti Way; and the elimination of two curb-cuts on Portland and Friend streets (loading off Valenti Way would be limited to one curb-cut for service).

The project site comprises a “couple of parcels” within the Bulfinch Tringle Neighborhood District and has three front-facing sides, off Friend Street, Valenti Way, and Portland Street, respectively, said Dartagnan Brown of Embarc Design.

Kambiz Shahbazi, president of KS Partners, made assurances that the lab space proposed for the project would likely be limited to the less-intensive Biosafety Levels 1 and 2.

“The building is being designed for Levels  1 and 2,” said Shahbazi, adding that moving the building to Level 3 or 4 would require a different buildout.

Asked about the building’s proposed height, which is about twice the size allowed under the city’s current zoning regulations and would therefore require a variance, Shahbazi pointed to the site’s 16,000 square-foot footprint. “This building won’t work if it’s any shorter than this,” he added.

Johanna Schneider, an attorney for the applicant, said the project is also expected to create “hundreds” of permanent in-person jobs, which would help repopulate the neighborhood in the aftermath of the pandemic. Besides increasing foot traffic, these newcomers to the neighborhood would undoubtedly patronize its restaurants and retail businesses, she said.

The public comment, which was originally set to end March 1, has been extended by two weeks to March 15, said Stephen Harvey, project manager for the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

To learn more, or to submit a public comment on the project, visit the BPDA’s project page for 222 Friend St. at

Public comments can also be sent directly to Stephen Harvey at [email protected].

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