BetaBoston

Is Davis Square the area’s next innovation hot spot?

Where’s Greater Boston’s next innovation hub? GrabCAD marketing guru Rob Stevens tells me his money is on Davis Square, where the growing company moved a few months ago.

“Davis is the new Kendall Square,” Stevens said Thursday afternoon in GrabCAD’s spacious new digs at 38 Cameron Avenue. The startup, which helps engineers share computer aided design files, spent the previous year renting space on Third Street in Kendall. Feeling squeezed — literally, by cramped quarters, and figuratively, by high prices — the GrabCAD team took the operation four stops up the Red Line in April.

Plenty of other startups are being pushed out of Kendall Square by skyrocketing rents, which routinely top $50 per square foot these days. The city of Cambridge is addressing the problem with a plan to require all new commercial developments in Kendall to reserve 5 percent of their space for young companies, offering low rates and flexible lease terms.

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In the meantime, South Boston’s Innovation District has become a popular landing spot, where $20 to $30 per square foot is more common. But I’ve heard several entrepreneurs warn that it won’t be long before the Innovation District has to confront the same issue that Kendall is dealing with now.

That would open the door for another neighborhood to attract local startups, and Davis Square is an appealing option, according to Stevens.

“It has a really nice mix of amenities,” he said. “It’s got coffee shops, restaurants, Hubway bicycle spots. If I were a commercial real estate developer, I’d be shopping in this area.”

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