By Ashley Lane, Vice President, Research
Boston’s always had a bit of a complex. New York thinks we’re jealous, we’re too uptight for San Francisco and Chicago gets competitive when it comes to parades. We have too many hoodies to be chic but not enough to be hip. And even though fashion bloggers have commandeered New England style for the masses, we still don’t get any respect. The media insists on portraying us like this, this and this.
No wonder the rest of the country thinks we’re either Dunkin Donuts-fueled sports nuts or stuffy tweed- lovers. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between.
Every other summer, we review all the tenants residing in downtown Boston. In 2011 and 2013, we discovered what we expected – that FIRE, Legal and Professional Services comprised essentially the entirety of Back Bay and the Financial District. But this year was different. As it turns out, Boston’s companies are like its residents – many of them can’t be pigeonholed.
Given the rightsizing, consolidation and focus on floorplate efficiency that’s been happening in Boston’s stalwart industries, we weren’t surprised to learn that the financial and legal sectors’ footprints are shrinking (see graphic).
What was surprising was the revelation of ‘other’ industries – sectors that, for the most part, didn’t register in Boston until quite recently. This list includes consumer goods (i.e. Wayfair and Converse), shared space models (WeWork and Cambridge Innovation Center) and the umbrella of technology – which covers companies from DraftKings to Criteo.
Collectively, these emerging industries occupy 12% more space than they did in the summer of 2013. To put this in perspective, that’s the roughly the equivalent of two Hancock Towers. Impressive for sure, but no one’s protesting the name of the Financial District. At least not yet.
The arrival of these companies in Back Bay and the Financial District – two of Boston’s more traditional neighborhoods – is an adjustment (no sir, you may not skateboard through the lobby of International Place), but it’s exciting.
New England is, after all, the birthplace of the penny loafer AND the Chuck Taylor. And there’s no reason we can’t wear both.