Ward 2 Alderman Maryann M. Heuston got a firsthand look at the rapidly developing expansion site for Greentown Labs, their Global Center for Cleantech Innovation.

By Jim Clark

Back in 2011, a small group of like-minded MIT graduates decided to establish a facility where they could keep building their engineering prototypes.

Since then, more than 100 startup companies have been incubated at Greentown Labs in Somerville, where they have collectively created more than 500 jobs and raised over $200 million in funding.

Now, the facility is putting the finishing touches on a big expansion project which began last year, and will increase its current available working space of 33,000 sq. ft. to an additional 54,400 sq. ft. at 444 Somerville Ave., directly across the alleyway from their current headquarters at 28 Dane St.

Dubbed the Greentown Labs Global Center for Cleantech Innovation, the facility’s goal was to become the biggest, most comprehensive incubator in the world for hardware-focused cleantech startups to grow. Their aim is to provide all of the necessary facilities and resources these startups need to thrive.

The original Greentown Labs site is currently at capacity with 52 member companies and they continue to receive new member applications every week. With this ongoing and increasing demand, the Global Center will enable them to expand their reach and host more than 100 cleantech and energy startups.

The new facility seeks to offer dynamic and creative workspaces including a manufacturing hub, a wet lab, a green roof, an international landing pad for startups from around the world, corporate innovation labs and a roof deck.

Additionally, the Global Center will include 24 wet lab benches, two electric vehicle charging stations, solar generation of 205 kW, parking for more than 200 bikes and an event space to facilitate up to 500 people.

According to facility managers, it is believed that when the Global Center reaches capacity, the Greentown Labs community will create, at minimum, an additional 325 jobs.

Ward 2 Alderman Maryann M. Heuston recently toured the new facility and is enthusiastic about its value to the community. “I was so happy to have the opportunity to tour Greentown’s new expansion space. This is a win for the city on so many levels,” Heuston says. “Increasing commercial development in Ward 2 has been a priority for me and it always will be. It brings more jobs to the city and allows socially conscious companies like Greentown Labs to set their roots in a great community.”

Heuston says she strongly supports the repurposing of significant old commercial buildings and the expansion of Greentown Labs into the old MAACO building on Somerville Ave. is a perfect example of what she supports and fights for.

“Pursuing such development in Ward 2 is crucial to the evolution of the city and an important way to keep a commercial building on the tax rolls as a commercially taxed property to ease the  burden on residential tax payers,” says Heuston. “The fact that Greentown needed additional space and was able to stay here in Somerville is exactly what we want to see happen again and again with startups and incubator businesses. Ward 2 has a good number of commercial buildings that will see new life as our economy transitions to new industries.”

According to Heuston, the fact that that Greentown Labs is going to be able to expand and stay in the city is an important development for Somerville.

The new Global Center will rehabilitate and preserve a century-old industrial building in Somerville’s Union Square, transforming it from its current use as an auto repair and paint shop into a 58,000 sq. ft. center of clean technology innovation, incubation and education.

The new Center is scheduled to be opened and fully operational sometime in September 2017.

 

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— Photos by Donald Norton

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