Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Big Plans to Construct Boston's Third Tallest Tower

A developer has plans to build one of Boston’s tallest buildings in downtown’s Financial District. The 740-foot glass tower will include a 300-room hotel, offices, retail space, a restaurant and 150 luxury condominium units.  Costing as much as $900 million to build, the 900,000-SF skyscraper will add a new showpiece to Boston’s rapidly changing skyline.

The building would be the tallest building in the downtown area and will include a 300-room hotel, retail space, offices, and up to 150 condominiums on the upper floors.

The tower proposal comes during one of the most dynamic periods of construction in the city’s history, as numerous skyscrapers aim to alter the Boston skyline.

At 740 feet, the angular skyscraper would be Boston’s third-tallest structure, behind the 750-foot Prudential building and the 790-foot John Hancock Tower.

An office building at 133 Federal Street would be combined with the new tower at ground level to create a 72,000-square-foot lobby with restaurants and shops.

The complex, called 111 Federal Street will rise on one of the Financial District’s last major development sites, replacing the city-owned Winthrop Square parking garage presently on the site.

Before work can proceed, developer Steve Belkin must negotiate a deal to buy the property from the city.

The dilapidated garage at 111-115 Federal Street will be demolished and replaced with glass storefronts and modern lobbies for the offices and a luxury hotel.

Former Mayor Thomas Menino selected Steve Belkin to redevelop the property in 2006, but the project failed to attract enough tenants amid the economic downturn.

The original plan called for a 1,000-foot office tower, but that proposal was rejected because it would have interfered with air traffic. The new proposal calls for a tower 260 feet shorter.

The building will be one of only a few towers built in the densely packed Financial District since the 1980s. In recent years, tech companies, restaurants and retailers have brought new life to the area.

The project, designed by Boston-based CBT Architects, is expected to begin construction sometime later this year.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Giant 52-story Tower to Rise at 5 Copley Place

Simon Property Group is preparing for construction of a 52-story tower at 5 Copley Place that would be one of the largest residential buildings in Boston. The project will create 542 residences, a 40,000 SF addition to the Neiman Marcus store, a glass-enclosed garden and 75,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space at the corner of Dartmouth and Stuart streets.  The $500 million private investment will put 1,700 construction workers back on the job. 

Approximately 680,000 square feet of new residential space will be above the existing building, situated across from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Back Bay Station.

The building’s 433 rental apartments and 109 condos will be housed in a slender 52-story tower designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, and include 71 affordable housing units.

The plans call for a lap pool on the 6th floor, a 7th floor sky lobby and deck, garage parking spaces and secure bike storage.

At 569 feet, the skyscraper will be the second tallest residential building in Boston, behind the soon-to-be constructed, Four Seasons Tower.

The project will include a large 40,000 square-foot addition to the to the Neiman Marcus store, followed by a complete renovation of the existing 115,000-square-foot store - which will not close during construction.

It will also include additional space for smaller-scale retail shops and restaurants, with a “public winter garden” at the Stuart Street plaza. The developer has also committed up to $1 million towards new public art and $250,000 to Southwest Corridor Park.

The project will build on the strengths of the existing Copley Place complex at Stuart and Dartmouth Streets and infuse an already successful retail destination with an inspired and dynamic mixed-use development.

“The expansion of Neiman Marcus and Copley Place strengthens our retail destination in the Back Bay and contributes to the City’s economic vitality,” according to a press release. “The project will enhance the urban fabric of the neighborhood and be a striking addition to the city’s skyline.”

The project attracted controversy when state representatives accused the Governor of violating a 1997 agreement by signing a revised lease with the developer before city and state regulators could review its impacts on area residents.

Some neighbors have raised concerns, for example, that the project will add to the high winds and shadows thrown off by other skyscrapers in the area.

However, the developer has stressed that the tower would not significantly increase wind in the area, and would only cast minimal new shadows on surrounding open spaces.

It also said it has rotated the tower from its initial orientation on the site and made several other design changes “to minimize environmental impacts, provide improvements to the public realm, and greatly enhance the overall pedestrian experience.”

Built by Chicago-based Urban Investment and Development, Copley Place was at the time the largest mixed-use project in the country. It was criticized by neighbors and some public officials for the way its hulking buildings towered over town houses in the South End.

The original $500 million project eventually included the Westin and Marriott hotels, four office buildings, a shopping mall, 100 apartments, and a 1,400-space parking garage.

The existing building at Copley Place consists of parking, three levels of retail and seven floors of office space.

The new design will transform the brick-paved plaza entrance to Neiman Marcus into a multi-story atrium with a glass facade

The new tower would fill out the last undeveloped parcels in Copley Place, which was initially built in the 1980s over the Massachusetts Turnpike roadway and ramps, and on a former railroad yard.

Simon initially proposed the project in June 2008, but put it on hold when the recession dried up funding for big projects.

The company resurrected the project last year and construction is expected to last 3 years.

  

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Plans to Construct Six New Office Towers in Government Center

Developers plan to construct a huge 528-foot glass skyscraper at the corner of Congress and New Sudbury streets. The curvy 47-story tower would be the centerpiece of a Government Center redevelopment project, where builders are preparing to construct a cluster of high-rises to replace portions of the Government Center Garage.

The project, estimated to cost well over $1 billion, will include construction of three high-rises and three smaller buildings containing more than 2.3 million square feet of commercial and residential space.

The project will begin with a 42-story residential tower with 450 rental and condominium units, followed by removal of the part of the garage that hangs over Congress Street and the construction of the 47-story office building. The developer wants to begin construction later this year.

The new office tower, designed by architect Cesar Pelli, would be an unusually dramatic building for Boston, a city that has shied away from the kind of eye-popping architecture that defines the skylines of other major cities.

In all, the project would result in six buildings containing 2.3 million square feet of commercial and residential space.

Three high-rises would be built on the western portion of the site, and three smaller buildings would be built along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

A retail plaza would create a new connection between the Greenway and Canal Street.

While the portion of the garage above the street would be demolished, the core of the building at Congress and New Sudbury would remain, preserving 1,100 parking spaces. That part of the garage would be hidden behind the new high-rises.

The development has received approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, but plans for each building must also be approved by the agency’s design commission. BRA director Brian Golden has offered strong support for the project.

“The redevelopment of the Government Center Garage site will reshape the downtown skyline in a way that few projects can,” he said. “We welcome a creative approach to its design and look forward to working with the architecture team to review their proposal more carefully.”

Developer Tom O’Brien, a principal of HYM Investment Group, said the project’s architecture is meant to call attention to the vast change it would bring to the city’s downtown.

He noted that it would remove one of the area’s worst eyesores, a relic of the Urban Renewal Era, and reconnect the Bulfinch Triangle to the North End and Beacon Hill.

Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects of New Haven is collaborating on the design with CBT Architects of Boston.

The project's primary investor is the National Electrical Benefit Fund.

Boston is experiencing a burst of real estate development, transforming much of its downtown and outlying neighborhoods. A retail and condominium tower is under construction at the former Filene’s site in Downtown Crossing. Additional towers are being proposed at Winthrop Square in the Financial District and at the site of the Harbor Garage on Atlantic Avenue.

In the Bulfinch Triangle, Related Beal is building a new headquarters for Converse Inc., and Boston Properties plans to construct a series of towers in front of the TD Garden.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Plans to Demolish & Rebuild Cambridge Housing Project

The Cambridge Housing Authority has plans to use proceeds from a $30.8 million bond from MassDevelopment to demolish and reconstruct the Jefferson Park apartments, a 100% affordable multi-family housing project in North Cambridge.

The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development ruled the site’s conditions obsolete, calling for demolition of the buildings.

Rebuilding will create 104 units: 32 one-bedroom units, 53 two-bedroom units, and 19 three-bedroom units.

Other improvements will include private entrances for each of the units, along with maintaining private outdoor spaces and landscape designs.

Bank of America is the project’s bond purchaser and MassDevelopment also assisted DHCD with the approval of federal low income housing tax credits that will provide approximately $25.1 million in equity.

“Providing affordable housing in Cambridge remains crucial in one of the commonwealth’s most competitive housing markets,” said Marty Jones, MassDevelopment president and CEO.

MassDevelopment issued the $30.8 million tax-exempt bond on behalf of Jefferson Park Apartments LLC, an entity managed by the Cambridge Housing Authority. Bank of America is the bond's purchaser.

Federal low-income housing tax credits will provide $25.1 million in equity for the project. MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development worked together to secure the tax credits.

Jefferson Park spans six buildings in North Cambridge. The properties built in 1950 and served as housing for veterans and their families in the aftermath of World War II. Since then, the Cambridge Housing Authority has provided affordable housing for families and individuals in these units.

CHA is a national leader in the development, management, and administration of subsidized affordable housing for more than 5,000 households of low-income elders, families, and disabled individuals. MassDevelopment has issued bonds on behalf of several CHA projects, most recently $104 million in tax-exempt bonds for three affordable housing developments.

 “The revitalization of Jefferson Park-State exemplifies the CHA’s commitment to provide its residents with high quality, energy-efficient housing that will remain affordable for generations to come," said Greg Russ, executive director of the Cambridge Housing Authority.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Huge Fenway Center Project Preparing to Begin Construction

Fenway Center, one of the largest stalled projects in Boston, is getting ready to begin construction later this Spring. The five-building, 1,300,000-square-foot mega project has secured financing for the project’s two-building first phase, which will include 313 residential units. The project has an estimated price tag of $700 million.

The 1.3 million-square-foot complex will be developed over air rights which span eight lanes of the Massachusetts Turnpike. 

The finished project will include 550 apartments and commercial space in five buildings between Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street; 1,290 parking spots, open space, and streetscape improvements. 

Plans also call for a farmers market and a bike-sharing station.

Fenway Center will be among the most transformative development projects in Boston.

Boston regulators approved a $4.6 million tax break to spur construction of a new neighborhood near Fenway Park that would straddle the Massachusetts Turnpike and include hundreds of apartments, stores, restaurants, and offices. 

The tax deal for the $550 million Fenway Center development, negotiated by Mayor Walsh, received unanimous support from the board of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The tax break will provide an important stimulus to a project that promises to create 1,800 construction jobs and boost economic growth.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority voted to petition the City Council for approval of a Special Tax Assessment Agreement between the City of Boston and MK Parcel 7 Development, LLC, the developer of the Fenway Center project.

The project has languished for years due to legal and permitting challenges, and the developer has struggled to generate enough funding to move forward.

The development was approved by the BRA Board in 2011, but has been delayed due to litigation and rising costs.

Fenway Center is particularly costly and complex because it requires construction of a $45 million deck over the Mass Pike to support its main parking garage and a 27-story tower with offices, apartments and stores.

The project would be the first development to be constructed on air rights over the turnpike since Copley Place was built in the 1980s.

“We are going to cover up the highway and build a new neighborhood out of thin air,” said John Rosenthal, president of developer Meredith Management Corp.

Fenway Center will combine:

  •     Fully funded, energy neutral MBTA Yawkey Commuter Rail Station
  •     1,290 Parking Spaces including 750 shared-use spaces
  •     500 Residential Apartments including 10% on-site affordable units and 5% offsite
  •     170,000 SF of Office Space
  •     Over 90,000 SF of Retail Space
  •     Over 30,000 SF of Parks and Green Spaces
  •     Bicycle Storage and a Bicycle Share Station
  •     Community Space
  •     Daycare Center

The tax relief is structured to help fund construction of the project’s retail spaces, not its apartments. The deal will reduce the project’s taxes over a six-year period during its construction and early years of operation.

After its completion, Fenway Center is expected to generate about $5 million a year in taxes. The developer would also pay the state $226 million to lease the 4.5-acre development site over 99 years.

Currently, the property generates about $152,000 a year.

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