Normandy planning $300M, 41-acre ‘superpark’ at former General Dynamics site in Needham


Featured In: Boston Business Journal

Normandy Real Estate Partners has plans to expand its existing 13-acre office park in Needham to a 41-acre “superpark,” with commercial office space, residential and retail that’s designed to be “a catalyst for creativity.”

At full buildout, development costs could top $300 million for an additional 450,000 square feet of development, said Mark Roopenian, principal with Normandy Real Estate Partners who handles development and leasing in Massachusetts.

Normandy, which is based in New Jersey and has a Boston office, is developing what Roopenian calls the Center 128 East office park at 400 First Ave. in Needham. That park is home to a 128-room Marriott Residence Inn and will be the future home of the 290,000-square-foot TripAdvisor headquarters, and Normandy wanted to leverage the success it’s seen at the park.

So the firm acquired the 28-acre Needham Industrial Park, which is imemediately contiguous with Center 128 East, with in late December for $54.5 million. The property spans 507,900 square feet of single and two-story office space and had for years been home to one of General Dynamics information systems and technology business units. General Dynamics plans to vacate the property by the fourth quarter for a new space in Dedham.

And the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s “Add a Lane” project will create a new off-ramp from Route 128 that will lead directly into the new superpark.

“Access and egress from what was once the first master-planned industrial park in the country is going to go from good to spectacular,” Roopenian said.

Roopenian said Normandy has additional capacity to develop an additional 450,000 square feet of space, including an additional headquarters-size building or “creative” office space.”Our concept is to make these buildings into something that the market has not seen before in terms of its architecture, the interiors, the level of amenties,” Roopenian said. “It’s all designed to be a catalyst for creativity. … That could be incubator space, it could also be headquarters, office space.”

Roopenian said the design of the park is aiming for a Kendall Square-type feel, with a quasi-industrial design featuring high ceilings, abundant natural light and exposed structures such as rafters and air ducting.

“If you have a place that’s really live-work-play, you’re much more likely to be successful, especially with this new generation of workers,” he said.

About one-third of the existing 507,900 square feet will be demolished to make way for residential development, and amenities in the superpark will include fitness centers and up to 20,000 square feet of walkable retail.

“It’s not going to be traditional 128 office space,” Roopenian said. “Our success here is going to be tied to our ability to bring something to the market which is a little bit different in a way that resonates with today’s users.”

Normandy is working with joint venture partners Greenfield Partners on Center 128 East and Westbrook Partners on Center 128 West.