Northeastern University campus expansion talks slowly moving along

BURLINGTON – The Planning Board continues to be the most thorough town government body in history after spending over two hours talking about Northeastern University’s expansion proposal at its George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security on South Bedford Street.

Northeastern University recently filed a site plan to construct a 104,000-square-foot building on its Burlington campus.

This is considered the second phase of a two-phase project, with the first phase already approved by the planners last September.

 The approved first phase is a site plan waiver to construct a 150’ x 200’ exterior net that is connected to the proposed building as part of its graduate teaching and research institute program. The height limit for the net is 60’ and will be composed of nylon/fiber materials that will look like a net found at a golf range but won’t be as dense.

Erecting the net is the first phase of a two-phase initiative brought forth by Northeastern University, with the second phase entailing the construction of an actual building on the South Bedford Street campus that will be strategically connected to the aforementioned net. This second phase is the site plan application currently in front of the planners.

“Northeastern University is committed to providing an updated and modern research facility,” explained local attorney Bob Buckley, of Riemer & Braunstein, representing Northeastern University. “The [net] was the first step, and the second step is an actual building. When completed, this will be a world class facility doing the most cutting-edge research and development in the area. This results in enhancing the property and the surrounding area, and the idea is to develop a lot of innovating in the greater Burlington area.”

Part of the netting process will see an existing classroom in the facility retrofitted to house control rooms where drones will come out of a tunnel and into the netting to be tested and accumulate data. This type of netting project for drone studies has been installed at military bases and other universities throughout the country.

James Brand, director of space and capital planning at Northeastern University, explained the importance of erecting the 104,000-square-foot building to complete the two-phased project.

“This new building will help us take things from the academic lab to industry as quickly as we want,” Brand told the board. “It will consist of a combination of research space and office and support space to support the research.”

The proposed three-level building would be in the southern portion of the campus, adjacent to the drone net. It would be the fourth building on the campus. The plans call for enhanced pedestrian circulation, which the site doesn’t adequately have today.