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Restaurant chain cites homelessness for downtown closure

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Restaurant chain cites homelessness for downtown closure

Despite its name, Teriyaki Madness was tired of the chaos surrounding its location near Union Station.

The Denver-based fast-casual Asian chain, which serves rice bowls with proteins and vegetables, closed its only corporate-owned store at 1920 17th St. in downtown Denver in June. It opened in 2019.

“Things like protests and lack of office traffic really caused a lot of business disruption,” said CEO Michael Haith. “The homeless issue down in that area was unsafe. We had a terrible time operating the restaurant, and we didn’t see any end in sight. I will not mince words.”

Teriyaki Madness’ 2,400-square-foot restaurant was also a training space for employees, an education center for national franchisees and a research-and-development facility to test out new menu items.

Haith said the company negotiated a deal with the landlord to get out of the lease, which still had years left.

“I just don’t think there’s a whole lot of effort to control or protect the businesses down there,” Haith said of the effect of homelessness on his business. “As a corporate location, our main goal wasn’t necessarily profitability. It was a pilot shop, it was a training shop, it was an exposure-to-market shop, and we just decided to focus our efforts elsewhere.”

The CEO said that Teriyaki Madness is in negotiations to build another corporate location in Denver, although he declined to disclose where. For now, the company is training franchisees and staff out of its Wheat Ridge location.

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Report: Amid COVID, demand for lab space surges, leading to higher rents

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Report: Amid COVID, demand for lab space surges, leading to higher rents

Demand for Boston-area lab space is surging, but the supply is scant, leading to soaring rents, according to a new report.

Demand is far outpacing available space in the Boston area, with a record number of large biotech and drug companies seeking 100,000 square feet amid a global race for new drug development, according to the report from CBRE, a Dallas-based commercial real estate services and investment firm.

“The Boston lab market is expanding at an unprecedented pace,” said Jonathan Varholak, the firm’s vice chairman. “With over $9.3 billion of venture capital funding having flowed into Boston area life science firms in the first three quarters of this year, demand from startups is at an all-time high. We’re seeing record-setting rents and historically low vacancies as a result.”

The vacancy rate for existing lab and research and development space is just 1.1% in the Boston-Cambridge market, as average asking rents soar, jumping 7.5% to $94.62 per square foot in September compared to March 2021.

In Boston and Cambridge, where vacancy is 0.1% and 0.3% respectively, the average asking rents are now $100.00 per square foot in Boston and $112.79 in Cambridge, according to CBRE. The leasing of lab space has been pushed into the suburbs, including Watertown and Route 128 West.

“As we see in housing, space is scarce,” said Joe Boncore, CEO of the industry group MassBio. “But as we add more space to the economy, we expect the price of lab space to level off.”

Ten million square feet of lab space is under construction in the Boston area, which includes 9.3 million square feet of “spec” construction, where developers broke ground with no tenants signed at the time, the report said. Six million square feet is expected to deliver by the end of next year, and 3.2 million square feet is being converted from other uses such as office or warehouse space.

In Boston, life sciences employment has grown faster than the U.S average over the past 15 years, although Boston has only about a sixth of the life sciences employment as Middlesex County, including Cambridge, Waltham, Lexington, among others. Yet Boston has grown more rapidly over the past year: 7.5% vs. 5.2%, according to CBRE.

“Life sciences labs quickly have become a highly sought-after property type for both tenants and investors,” said Ian Anderson, CBRE’s Americas Head of Office Research. “This intense demand for lab space is the natural result of a global push for new medicines begetting strong funding and hiring in the life sciences sector.”

Global demand for vaccines for COVID-19 and viruses like it has led to initial public offerings for life sciences companies in the on pace for a record year, raising roughly $13 billion, according to CBRE.

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MBTA to cut back bus routes Dec. 19, citing workforce shortages

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MBTA to cut back bus routes Dec. 19, citing workforce shortages

Amid a national workforce shortage cutting across industries, the MBTA has not been spared.

The agency announced that, starting Dec. 19, bus service and Mattapan line service will be scaled back to accommodate employee attrition, which is outpacing new hires.

“Like other transit systems across the country, the MBTA is experiencing significant challenges in attracting the workforce needed to meet demands for service,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said. “The MBTA is budgeted for a full level of service, and ready to add back services when we have hired and trained new bus and train operators.”

Poftak added in his comments that teams at the MBTA are working to streamline the hiring process and encouraged those interested in applying to head to mbta.com/apply.

The MBTA’s winter schedule will focus on maintaining service for routes with “durable ridership,” on routes with crowded buses and on supporting those returning to in-person work and school. The routes will also be adapted to new, COVID-induced travel patterns.

Buses will reduce in frequency by about one in every 20 scheduled trips, with many of the changes reducing frequency on weekdays, especially in the morning.

Several other bus changes are going into effect later this month. Route 111, with service to and from Woodlawn, will operate a simplified service pattern this winter, and Routes 62 and 76, which run between Alewife and the Bedford VA Hospital, will resume rush-hour weekday service.

The MBTA will hold a public information session Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. to discuss the changes. People can learn more about the affected routes at mbta.com/servicechanges.

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First snowfall of the season for many in Massachusetts could impact evening commute

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First snowfall of the season for many in Massachusetts could impact evening commute

It’s time to dig out your winter boots and snow brush for your car.

Wednesday will bring the first snowfall of the season for many across the Bay State, as meteorologists predict a widespread 1 to 2 inches of snow, with lower amounts along the coast.

While the light snowfall totals look to be minor, much of the snow will fall during the evening commute, so officials are urging people to plan for extra travel time and slow down on the roads.

“Not only will you be safer on snow if you curb your speed, you’ll have greater ability to stop if you need to,” said Mary Maguire of AAA Northeast. “Allow for more distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you. This will provide you with more stopping distance if you need to brake.”

The best chance for accumulation looks to be between 4 p.m. and midnight, and the best shot for higher snow amounts would be toward the Worcester Hills.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation advised people to clean snow off their vehicle, and to make sure their windshield wipers work and they have windshield washer fluid.

“So ask any Cop who has been on the job for few years which day normally has the most motor vehicle crashes? Answer: First snowfall of the year,” the Hanson Police Department tweeted. “Slow down, be safe, and keep your insurance rates down.”

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