City Convenes First IAG Meeting for Proposed 11-Story Life Science Building

The Boston Planning & Development Agency convened its first IAG (Impact Advisory Group) meeting virtually on Tuesday, Feb. 6, to discuss an 11-story life science building proposed for 222 Friend St. in the West End.

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 will measure approximately 170 feet to the top of its highest occupied floor, with a setback mechanical penthouse surrounded by acoustic screening, which would occupy less than 30 percent of the roof area.

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, 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 approximately 109 feet of curb-cuts on Portland and Friend streets (loading off Valenti Way would be limited to one curb-cut for service).

The project site consists of a combination of a “couple of parcels” within the in 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.

Asked why the address for the project had been changed to its current from the original 141 Portland St., Johanna Schneider, an attorney for the applicant, responded the address is determined by where the building would front,  and in this case, the entrance would be located on Friend Street.

Mary Lin Farrell, a first-time IAG member, said the proposed building would be far too tall for this location, especially given  the allowable height of between 80 and 100 feet for the site per current zoning regulations.

Schneider acknowledged that the project would require zoning relief from the city for its proposed height. But she said the applicant believes the project is an “appropriate height” for its location, and that the added height is necessary for them to make the project financially feasible.

Moreover, the project is expected  to help repopulate Downtown Boston, following the post-pandemic downturn of its office landscape, said Schneider, while the permanent life-science jobs created by the project wouldn’t be remote and would therefore bring in a “couple of hundred” workers, five days a week, to help revitalize the area.

During public testimony, Louise Thomas, a longtime West End resident and community activist, expressed a strong preference for housing in the project, especially in light of the site’s easy access to the T. She said housing at this location would align with the stated intentions of both Mayor Michelle Wu and Gov. Maura Healey to create more housing accessible to public transit throughout the city and the Commonwealth.

“I would love to see housing there,” said Thomas. “And I think you could get housing in that spot a lot easier than this building.”

Schneider replied that the project as proposed is allowed by right, whereas a project with housing would require a zoning variance from the city. She also said the project would intend to create “synergy” with other nearby life-science projects, including One Congress.

The BPDA will hold a virtual public meeting on the project on Tuesday, Feb. 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (Register for the meeting at Another virtual IAG meeting is also tentatively scheduled for Feb. 26,  said Stephen Harvey, BPDA project manager.

While the BPDA’s public-comment period for the project is set to run through March 1, that deadline could likely be extended past that date, said Harvey.

Harvey said the project would also be reviewed by the Boston Civic Design Commission (BCDC), “so [the process] won’t be wrapped up by March 1.”

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

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