For decades, even as Kendall Square boomed around it, a rocky lot at 585 Third St. sat mostly empty.
Not for much longer.
Japanese drug giant Takeda Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday it will lease a 16-story office and lab planned for the site, a project that includes a 300-seat performing arts center and will be ready for occupancy by 2026.
Takeda, which bills itself as Massachusetts’ largest life-sciences employer, with about 7,000 workers here, plans to move employees over from six facilities in Central Square to the 585 Third St. building. The new building, combined with Takeda’s three existing facilities in Kendall Square, will comprise the company’s “global hub in the US.”
“We want to be co-located and have one campus,” said Julie Kim, Takeda’s US business unit president and US country head. “There are significant benefits to having our teams being able to work more closely together.”
Takeda has long been a tenant with BioMed, and the pharmaceutical giant occupies a combined 1.3 million square feet of BioMed property. Takeda employs 20,000 in the United States, of which 7,000 are located in Massachusetts. Beyond Kendall Square, Takeda has a campus in Lexington with manufacturing, lab, and office space, along with BioLife Plasma donation centers in Worcester, Medford and Methuen.
Despite consolidating the Central Square facilities, the newly built lab at 585 Third St. combined with Takeda’s plans to add more space in its existing 650 East Kendall building will give Takeda more laboratory space than it has today in Central Square — and it will be state of the art, Kim said. Bringing research and development staff together into one campus is exciting, she said.
“As we’ve been experiencing, having people come back into the office, it’s just so energizing,” Kim said.
Developing best in class lab space is always top of mind for biotech developer BioMed. But for Bill Kane, BioMed’s president of East Coast and UK markets, solving the 20-year challenge of 585 Third St. was personal. The site had long been envisioned as one that would feature a performing-arts center, but faced enormous complexities tied to a gas-transfer site for utility provider Eversource.
“We could never figure out how to move that utility,” said Kane. “This is a large master plan that had contemplated a performing arts center 20 years ago, and to finish the vision that our master planner Ken Greenberg had put before the city of Cambridge in 1998 … it’s personal for all of us to see through what we really, really wanted to do 20 years ago.”
In 2018, BioMed bought the property for $50.5 million, and planned an office and lab building with a performing arts center there. Combining arts and science only furthers Kendall Square’s reputation as a cluster that can attract life-science talent, Kane said.
“Merging art and science is not an uncommon theme,” he said. “Using observation and exploration, art and science, there are so many similarities between. This is just what makes it really exciting for us.”
The complexity of developing 585 Third St. and relocating the gas-transfer station on the site involved everyone from presidents and CEOs of utilities to public officials to community members and arts advocates. BioMed ended up filing a formal proposal to the city of Cambridge for the lab and arts facility in March 2020, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New England. A year later, BioMed announced a new nonprofit, 585 Arts, that would operate the 300-seat theater. All the while, demand for lab space in the biotech capital of the world grew ever higher.
“This was a unique period of time,” said Tim Schoen, BioMed’s CEO. “We have users clamoring for space. … We could deliver on everything the community wanted because of the market demand.”
Work is underway on relocating the gas-transfer station, and it should be done by year end, Schoen said.