Covering for those calling in sick is harder to juggle as more workers take long overdue vacations: 4.8 million took vacation or personal days, compared with 3.7 million workers who took time off in the comparable period one year ago.
When our chamber expanded into Wellesley in 2020 we had a feeling this was a community in transition. Sure enough, in the past year Town Meeting lifted a series of archaic dining and liquor laws that's bringing in new businesses and vitality.
Wellesley is also experiencing what has to be an unprecedented transition in its long-static office market.
Of the town's three million square foot total office market, 68% of the space has recently been sold, or is for sale, according to Elizabeth Holmes, director corporate services at R.W. Holmes Realty Co.
You read that right: Sixty-eight percent of Wellesley’s entire office market has, or may soon have, new owners. And that’s just from six portfolios, representing over two million square feet in transition.
Late last year Lincoln Properties purchased four buildings at 40, 60, 62, 70 Walnut for $36.6 million, comprising a total of 129,00 SF. Lincoln is doing some common area improvements but as of now keeping as office.
Also late last year, Beacon Capital purchased 93 Worcester for $111.5 million. The 343,000 SF office building has 138,000 SF available (previously the Harvard Pilgrim HQ before merger). Beacon received approval this month to build the town's first lab/life science lab on the property.
Beacon Capital also purchased Sunlife Park (96,100,110,112 Worcester St in June for $202 million. It includes office buildings totaling 375,000 SF. 110 and 112 Worcester are leased. 96 and 100 were occupied by Sunlife, which has downsized. Beacon is expected to go before the town to place a biolab there as well.
Roche Brothers sold its previous HQ at 70 Hastings in 2021 to Grander Capital for $4.675M ($177/SF). 26,300 SF office building was sold 100% vacant. Grander is renovating the property to be a multi-tenanted office building.
What's on the market:
The big one in Wellesley in terms of sheer size is the Haynes Portfolio. Much of it is Class B space and not all properties are being sold in one portfolio. But the family is reportedly open to selling all the buildings. Haynes owns over 600,000 SF of office space in Wellesley alone, with a few other properties in Newton and Waltham.
And then there’s the seven buildings at the Wellesley Office Park on William Street, a total of 575,000 SF. The sellers are reportedly in the last round of “best and final” offers – so they will be picking a buyer in the next several weeks.
Bridge connecting Newton to Needham closed again
The bridge connecting Needham Street in Newton with Highland Ave in Needham will be closed to all traffic from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. nightly this week through this Friday. Details about detours here
LabShares Newton celebrated the opening of 19,000 SF of new incubator lab space at Chapel Bridge Park on the Newton-Watertown line last week -- with another 6,000-foot lab opening in September.
The new space incorporates 12 private suites, 15 lab benches in the open lab, and a comprehensive set of shared resources and equipment. In total, LabShares operates over 40,000 SF of shared lab and office space for over 30 biotech companies.
The company is also re-starting the Launch@LabShares Pitch Competition, where one winning startup will be awarded free lab and office space for one year. Two runners-up will be awarded a free bench in the shared lab plus dedicated desk for three months. Details.
Other need to knows
Two new restaurants are coming to Newtonville: Donut Villa Diner (with locations in Malden and Cambridge) opening at former Brewer’s Coalition spot and Grandma’s Kitchen to the former Paint Bar. (All Over Newton)
Exhibitors are now eligible to apply for a booth at our annual Needham Harvest Fair, set for Oct. 2. Details.
Distraction Brewing Company Beer Garden will return to Chestnut Hill Square on Thursdays and Fridays in August and Thursdays through Saturdays in September and October. (Patch)
State Treasurer Deb Goldberg has announced the launch of a new grant program to provide funding and training for people interested in opening a family childcare program. (BBJ)
Not happy about happy hour
We didn’t ask for it.
That was the reaction from head of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association when asked by Samantha J. Gross at the Globeabout a proposal to lift the state’s nearly 40 year happy hour ban.
“Any type of discounted alcohol means a dollar less that goes to the bottom line," MRA President Steve Clark said. "Most restaurants are not asking for this. I don’t know who is driving the bus on this.”
The bus drivers would be the state Senate, which inserted the proposal into a massive economic development bill late Thursday. It would permit any city or town to allow the sale of discounted alcohol beverages at bars and restaurants during specific hours up to 10 p.m. (So, it’s really, it’s a happy hours, not hour, proposal.)
But the provision is not part of the House bill so it will need to be resolved in conference committee before the legislative year ends this Sunday.
And it could still be vetoed by Gov. Charlie Baker who didn't ask for it either. In fact, he opposed the idea in the past.
Here’s what they should do instead
If lawmakers really wanted to help restaurants, there’s many better ways they could do so, including by making to-go drinks and outdoor dining permanent, rather than the current charade of extensions. Or they could revise the tips laws allowing the workers in the back kitchen to share the tips so many of us have increased giving. Or fund more direct grants.
And here's the single most important thing lawmakers could do between now and Sunday: Cover the cost of Unemployment Insurance overpayments and fraud that otherwise will fall onto the backs of employers.
Both the governor and the House allocated $300 million to cover part of the clawbacks cost.
The Senate bill shrunk the recommendation to a mere $100 million. (Too busy planning their happy hour meetup perhaps?)
That will only cover a fraction of waived overpayments and fraudulent claims, leaving business owners to cover errors they had nothing to do with.