Sunday, April 22, 2012

1M square-foot Tremont Crossing Proposed for Roxbury

The $300 million project would include 500,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet of office space, an 11-story apartment building with 240 units, and a new museum for the National Center for Afro-American Artists. The development will also include a large public plaza and a multi-level parking garage with 1,700 spaces.

Elma Lewis Partners and Feldco Development have proposed "Tremont Crossing," a 1-million-square-foot, mixed-use development in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.

If approved by the city, the $300 million project would include 500,000 square feet of retail with smaller shops and boutiques along Tremont Street, 200,000 square feet of office space, an 11-story apartment building with 240 units, and a new museum for the National Center for Afro-American Artists. The development will also include a large public plaza and a multi-level parking garage with 1,700 spaces.

Tremont Crossing will be located on the 8-acre parcel bounded by Tremont, Whittier and Downing streets. 

According to the filing with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the project seeks to integrate a mix of uses in a “highly-functional, urban context; creating a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly environment that is conducive to the success of its commercial and cultural tenants, as well as enhancing the quality of life in the neighborhood of which it will become a part.”

The museum and cultural space will be at the center of the development with a public plaza to include sculptures and outdoor seating. The office tower will rise above the museum, but will maintain its pedestrian access on Tremont Street and offer unobstructed views of downtown Boston.

The Gund Partnership in collaboration with and Stull and Lee Inc., created the design for Tremont Crossing.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Epic Solar-Powered Fenway Project to Start: 5 Buildings, $450M

A court ruling has removed the most significant legal barrier standing in the way of the long-delayed Fenway Center development, a $450 million complex of apartments, stores, and offices to be built over the Massachusetts Turnpike.  Fenway Center calls for development of 550 apartments, retail stores, parking garages, and a 27-story office and residential building, to be built on parking lots near the ballpark.  A new commuter rail station is also slated to be built next to the site.

Massachusetts Land Court Judge Harry Grossman dismissed a zoning challenge that halted the project nearly three years ago. Grossman, in a ruling made public Tuesday, found that a project neighbor, HRPT Medical Buildings Realty Trust, failed to prove the project would improperly infringe on its property.
The ruling means that the $450 million Fenway Center project can now get under way. The first phase will involve a 102-unit apartment building along Brookline Avenue, a 750-space parking garage on a deck over the Mass. Pike, a pair of apartment building with 316 units total along Beacon Street, and retail that will include the organic grocer Harvest Co-op. Yup.

A lot going on right near the ballpark, and it all can move forward now that a judge has ruled that a neighboring property owner has no chance of winning its case over public street extensions.

The decision clears the way for one of the city’s largest and most transformative construction projects.

Fenway Center will be transformative in two ways. First, as we've seen, there's a lot of stuff going up, notable in itself even in a Boston that is seeing one of its busiest construction sprees in living memory (the project's next phase includes a 27-story tower over the Mass. Pike with additional retail, office space and apartments). Second, the five buildings total planned for the project are supposed to be powered electrically largely by solar panels. Fans on their way to a Sox game will see apartments, restaurants, stores, etc., humming with the same sunshine powering Bobby Valentine. How about that.

The five-building complex is designed to be unlike anything now standing in Boston, with solar panels to generate much of its electricity. Part of the development will straddle the turnpike between Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street, where many Red Sox fans now walk to the ballpark through crumbling parking lots.

State and city officials cheered the decision, noting that Fenway Center will result in hundreds of construction jobs and advance the redevelopment of the neighborhood around the ballpark.

“It is great news that this lawsuit has been decided,’’ Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “I am pleased that the $450 million Fenway Center can now move forward and put 1,700 construction workers back on the job.’’

Friday, April 20, 2012

$500 million, 47-story Copley Tower Gets Go-Ahead

City officials have approved construction of what would be Boston’s tallest residential building, a 47-story tower at Copley Place with 318 condominiums above a retail base that houses an expanded Neiman Marcus store and other shops. Supporters said the tower will be a striking addition to the skyline and will create jobs and improve the neighborhood.

The board of the Boston Redevelopment Authority OK’d the $500 million project by Simon Property Group, of Indianapolis, after a long debate involving residents, union laborers, and public officials. Opponents argued it won’t provide enough affordable housing and will worsen traffic and cast shadows on nearby Copley Square. In the end, however, the board voted that the project should move forward.

Simon Property Group hopes to begin construction later this year.

The tower was just one of several large projects to win approval.

Others included a 404-unit apartment tower next to the Jacob Wirth Restaurant on Stuart Street near Boston’s Theatre District and a mixed use-project project on Boylston Street that will be developed by Abbey Group.  It will have 210 apartments, offices, and stores in a building that will replace a McDonald’s.

Union workers said the project would alleviate a 35 percent unemployment rate in the building trades in Massachusetts. Others said the project would bring $7 million a year in tax collections and upgrades of nearby public spaces.

Opponents, including Democratic state Representative Byron Rushing, argued the developer is shortchanging the city on affordable housing.

The tower, designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, would add nearly 800,000 square feet to the Copley Place complex. Currently the complex has 100 apartments, the Westin and Marriott hotels, four office buildings, a shopping mall, and a 1,400-space garage.

In addition to new residences, the project would include a renovation and expansion of Neiman Marcus.

A public winter garden would also be built, along with a redesign of the entry to Southwest Corridor Park and up to $1 million in public art displays.

Simon plans 10 apartments in the tower to be affordable housing and is negotiating to build another 35 units in the South End. It is seeking a location for another three units it needs to build to comply with city rules mandating affordable housing in such projects equal to 15 percent of the total residences.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jailhouse Chic: Cambridge Courthouse Destined for Apartments

Seven suitors stepped forward for the chance to redevelop the old Edward J. Sullivan Middlesex Courthouse in East Cambridge into an apartment tower. However, the state has rejected all seven proposals to redevelop the 22-story, 595,000-square-foot tower on Thorndike Street. The state’s Department of Capital Asset Management determined that it was in the best interest of the commonwealth to issue a revised RFP.

Last month, seven commercial real estate firms filed competing plans with the state’s Department of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) to redevelop the 22-story Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse. Among the teams that met the deadline included Amerimar Acquisition, Boston Properties, The Congress Group, The Gutierrez Company., HYM Investmemnt Group, Leggat-McCall Properties and Trinity Financial. An eighth developer, Bulfinch Thorndike Investors LLC, was rejected early in the process.

Responding to a request for proposals, prominent developers in late February put forth plans that would have mixed rental apartments with thousands of new square feet of retail and green space as well as parking; and all swore off lab space. Still, the state said no a month later and returned deposits.

In a letter to the developers, Dana Harrell, acting deputy commissioner of real estate, read to a BBJ reporter by one of the recipients, said, “The commonwealth has elected to reject all proposals which were submitted in response to the RFP dated Nov. 2 for the Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse at 40 Thorndike St. in Cambridge.

DCAM has determined that it is in the best interest of the commonwealth to reissue a revised RFP and all interested parties are invited to submit proposals. This is an opportunity for your team to review and revise your proposal if you wish to do so. Within a few days, revised RFP information will be posted on the DCAM website.”

The state has now set a new date for bids, May 14, but the target date for closing a deal with a developer, July 1. The state, then, expects that this latest round of proposals will produce a developer willing to undertake the asbestos removal necessary to start any redevelopment and deal with community concerns surrounding the scope and size of any new project.

And, as for those in the community (who don't really have a say on which developer wins the bid as the state controls the courthouse's fate), they are still pushing the idea of housing coupled with green space and, of course, parking.

Also identical this time around: the moving day for the jailbirds. The state would commit to moving them by Dec. 31, 2013.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Luxury Housing and Two-Story Chanel Planned for Back Bay

A new luxury building will soon get underway on Newbury Street, offering six condominiums and a new storefront for one of the street’s high fashion staples. The corner of Newbury and Arlington Streets is set to house two, new four-story 49,000-square-foot buildings, collectively called No. 6 Newbury. The project, will include construction of a 10,000 square foot ‘House of Chanel’, on the first two floors.

The new condos slated for 4-6 Newbury Street --two, two-bedroom duplexes and four, three- to four-bedroom units ranging from 3,000 to 4,500 square feet - and having floor to ceiling windows -- will be built where a garage currently stands, are expected to ask $3.5 million to $6 million each, depending on their sizes and design requests.

That would make them among the most expensive listings in Boston when they come online next winter.

News of the project, which its developers, including Irish investor Aidan Brooks, are calling No. 6 Newbury (which is actually being called Chanel No. 6 among those in the Boston real estate community), emerged last week after its approval by the city. The Chanel store will take up the first two floors.

Chanel's new 10,000 square foot home has been designed to resemble Coco Chanel’s famed Paris apartment with an exterior fa├žade of French white limestone and black etched moldings designed by architects Peter Marino and Richard Bertman.

Construction of the building is expected to begin in late spring with units expected to be ready for February 2013. No date has been set for Chanel's move.

Monday, April 16, 2012

S+H Construction Receives LEED-Certification on Residential Project in Cambridge

S+H Construction, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the greater Boston area's premier residential renovation and custom home building companies, is pleased to announce a recently completed residential project in Cambridge received LEED-certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for achievement in green homebuilding and design.

The 6,435 square foot home, built by S+H Construction and designed by AndersonPorterDesign, took approximately six months to design and two years to construct. It incorporates durable construction details, sustainable landscaping, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, recycled materials, and enhanced indoor air quality features including HEPA filters, a heat-recovery ventilation system and Energy Star rated ventilation fans. It also includes the infrastructure to add solar voltaic panels in the future.

The project achieves a 61 HERS (home energy rating system) index score, meaning it is nearly 40% more energy efficient than a home designed to building code requirements. Helping to achieve this level was the use of Icynene foam insulation for the exterior walls and the roof and high efficiency and renewable energy measures such as a ground source heating and cooling system and a rooftop solar hot water heating system.

"The design and construction of an energy retrofit project like this renovation requires careful attention to detail and a well-coordinated team in order to successfully achieve LEED-certification," states Daniel Anderson, of AndersonPorterDesign. "I appreciated the skill and expertise brought to the project by S+H and am pleased that together we were able to meet the program's stringent requirements. This project is significant in being only the 6th gut-rehab project to achieve LEED for Homes certification in Massachusetts."

A multi-award winning firm, S+H Construction collaborates with architects and other design professionals to offer residential renovations, custom building, historic restorations, energy conservation, renewable energy, site work and landscaping solutions. Serving the greater Boston area for over 30 years, S+H provides a dedicated team who share a commitment to customer satisfaction. Their work is consistently seen in both regional and national home and design publications. Additionally the company recently received the 2012 Best of Boston Home Award which is the fifth "Best of" honor for S+H.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Construction Worker Injured in Hopkinton Fall

A electrical construction worker was flown by medical helicopter to a Worcester hospital today, after falling from a Hopkinton building he was helping to construct on Clinton Street.

The man was conscious and alert, but complained of back pain after he fell about 20 feet, Hopkinton Fire Lt. Carl Harris said. The man, whose identity was not available, was working with a construction crew at 135 Clinton St., Harris said.

A LifeFlight helicopter landed at the nearby New England Laborers Training Center on East Street and flew the man to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

“It was a construction-type accident so we’re really not sure what happened,” Harris said. There was also a language barrier so it was difficult to get information, he said.

Police notified the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration Boston office who are investigating the incident.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Shawmut Design and Construction Launches Sports Venues Division

Boston design and construction firm announces  the launch of a dedicated Sports Venues division that will specialize in the management of construction projects at stadiums, arenas, and other athletic facilities across the country.

The launch of Shawmut’s Sports Venues division is the result of momentum established by the completion of more than two dozen projects at some of the nation’s marquee stadiums, including: MetLife Stadium, home of the National Football League’s New York Giants and New York Jets; TD Garden, home of the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins and the NBA’s Boston Celtics; Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees; Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles; Fenway Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox; and Alumni Stadium at Boston College.

Shawmut’s Sports Venues division will be overseen by Randy Shelly. Shelly joined Shawmut in 2002, and has more than 25 of years of experience in the construction industry where he has cultivated relationships and managed projects with some of the most prestigious names in sports venues, restaurants, and retail, including Delaware North Companies, MetLife Stadium, Apple and Louis Vuitton.

The Sports Venues division is currently managing a series of Capital Improvement Projects at TD Garden, and has already been awarded multiple projects for 2012, including Upper Level Concessions at Camden Yards, which will be completed during Major League Baseball’s off-season.

The Sports Venues team has a unique understanding of stadium specific considerations, such as the integration of stadium systems; the complex audio/visual requirements; and structural parameters associated with stadium work. Another area of Shawmut’s expertise is suite development and conversion, a critical component for both new and existing stadiums.

Shawmut is also experienced in navigating challenging work environments; utilizing mitigation practices for occupied spaces; and furnishing high-end custom finishes.

Shawmut, an employee-owned company with offices in Boston, Providence, New Haven, New York City, and Las Vegas, is regarded as one of the premier construction management firms in the United States, with annual revenue of $650 million.

Shawmut has cultivated a reputation for delivering exceptional, personalized service to every client, and promises absolute scheduling predictability. Up-front budget and value engineering exercises, along with the development of specific phasing and delivery methods allow Shawmut to complete each project on time and on budget.

Along with the Sports Venues division, Shawmut also specializes in Academic; Commercial; Corporate Interiors; Healthcare and Life Sciences; Hotels; Restaurants; and Retail.

Shawmut expects to experience continued growth in 2012.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Building Activity Rebounds in Bay State

Construction in the area rebounds after years of anemic activity. Higher education and health care projects are expected to keep Bay State contractors busy in 2012. Construction activity is expected to rebound to the highest levels since the recession.

The education and health caresectors are expected to be the top sources of construction activity again in 2012, said Mary Gately, director of market services for Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts.

With office and retail construction at a near-standstill in recent years, the construction industry has fallen back on public sector jobs as a cushion during the economic downturn.

Partly because of public sector work, Massachusetts construction companies are the nation’s most optimistic for the second straight year, according to a survey of members by Associated General Contractors of America.

The survey released this week found 58 percent of Bay State respondents expect business to grow in 2012. The state had the survey’s highest rates of optimism about public building projects, as well as construction in the retail, warehouse and lodging sectors.

Industry figures see potential for health care, life sciences and multi-family housing to help lead a rebound in 2012 and ensuing years.

Lee Kennedy Co. of Quincy is on a pace for $200 million in construction this year, twice its billings in 2011. The company is working on such high-profile projects as the $42-million Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Dorchester, Berklee College of Music’s new $70-million mixed-use building in Back Bay and a $30-million, 130-room Marriott Residence Inn in South Boston’s Seaport District.

Higher education accounts for 40 percent of the company’s business this year, CEO Lee Kennedy said. “For a long while, it’s been public higher education that’s been carrying the day. Now, recently, private higher-ed is starting to gain momentum,” Kennedy said.

About five million square feet of commercial development is being built in Greater Boston this year, according to research from commercial real estate brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle.

The state’s biotech industry, long held up as a prime economic catalyst, will be in the thick of building projects in 2012. Bay State biotech companies received $1 billion in venture capital funding in 2011, helping fuel expansions, said Peter Abair, director of economic development for the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ new 1.1-million-square-foot headquarters in South Boston is the highest-profile project among several major projects. Biogen Idec is building two structures totaling 500,000 square feet as it moves lab and corporate space from Weston to Cambridge.

In a sign of confidence in the market’s future, Skanska USA is building a 100,000-square-foot lab space in Cambridge’s Kendall Square on speculation. The flurry of activity is the industry’s busiest since the middle of the last decade, Abair said.

Quincy-based J. Calnan & Associates, a construction management firm, expects its 2012 business to be steady or slightly above that of last year, President Jim Cahill said.

The company is counting on life science and technology companies for many of its nearly 30 projects this year. Calnan recently oversaw the build-out of new headquarter space for Joule Unlimited, a biofuels start-up that moved from Cambridge to Bedford. “While people aren’t expanding necessarily, that’s still a good market to be in,” Cahill said.

Construction starts in Massachusetts increased 24 percent in 2011 compared with 2010, according to Reed Construction Data.

Bernard Markstein, Reed’s chief economist, said the region’s activity should continue to grow this year. “Where Boston has a real advantage is health care,” he said. “Boston is known as a leader there, and the needs continue to grow there.”

Ownership changes in the health care sector could spur more work for contractors as deep-pocketed investors acquire local hospitals.

Steward Health Care, which is backed by Cerberus Capital Management, acquired Quincy Medical Center last year and plans to spend nearly $31 million to remodel the hospital and install new equipment.

Public school building construction projects continue to be a major source of work, as they had been during the recession.

The Massachusetts School Building Assistance Fund is contributing to 23 projects that will be completed this year, at a total cost of $802 million, spokesman Matt Donovan said.

Projects scheduled for groundbreaking this year include a $61-million middle school in Hingham and a $101-million high school in Marshfield.

Multi-family housing is another potential growth area, Lee Kennedy said. Apartment construction is rebounding in Boston, as home ownership declines and more people join the rental market.

AvalonBay Communities broke ground last year on the 220-unit Avalon Cohasset apartment complex. The project had been delayed for years because of permitting battles and the housing downturn. Condo projects are on the drawing board in downtown Boston for the first time since the recession, which Kennedy described as a reaction to rising rental rates.

Kenneth Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors of America, has predicted that it won’t be until 2015 that construction levels recover to pre-recession levels.

But Massachusetts has fared better than most states because public sector projects, particularly at the state universities, helped pick up the slack during most of the recession, Gately said. As the industry looks ahead, the question is whether the private sector can sustain the momentum.