Thursday, August 28, 2014

$1B Twin Tower Project Proposed for Boston's Waterfront

A developer is planning to construct a pair of angular skyscrapers with up to 300 hotel rooms and 120 condominiums on one of the city’s largest development sites. The $1 billion project would construct two modern towers -- one clad in glass, the other in terra cotta – that would rise to 600 feet along Atlantic Avenue on the downtown waterfront. Construction of the 1.3 million-square complex would create jobs for up to 3,300 hard hats.

Developer Don Chiofaro plans to replace the Harbor Garage with a pair of tall buildings containing a five-star hotel, residences, offices and stores.

The $1 billion waterfront complex, designed by the firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, would redefine a corner of the city dominated by structures built many decades ago, and create a new gateway to the city from the water.

The 1.3 million-square project would construct a 600-foot tall residential tower and a 537-foot office building, including up to 300 hotel rooms, 120 condominiums, 700,000 square feet of offices and three levels of retail stores.

On the ground floor, a public arcade would be constructed to connect the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to Boston Harbor, and 1,400 parking spaces would be built underground.

The arcade would represent a dramatic improvement from the lack of public space presently on the site, and would allow for year-round public events and open new views of the water from the greenway – both signature elements of a thriving city.

The developer plans to meet the state waterfront development requirements of devoting at least 48 percent of the footprint to “open space” by primarily creating “Harbor Square,” an enclosed atrium covered by a retractable glass ceiling and removable doors that would house a skating rink in the winter, and a great lawn with flowers and farmers markets, in the summer months.

At its widest point, Harbor Square would be 167 feet wide at Atlantic Avenue, tapering to 70 feet wide at the Harbor -- large enough to comfortably accommodate the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink.

“The project looks like nothing else on the Boston skyline and nothing else at the ground level,” Chiofaro said. “In its uniqueness, it shares a common bond with a distinguished collection of Boston architecture and engineering.”

Chiofaro said that his project, with his glistening towers and five-star hotel, will increase property values in the area and transform the entire neighborhood.

Monday, August 25, 2014

101 Years Old and Still on the Job at Capitol Lighting

Talk about company loyalty. Statistics show most people change jobs a many as nine or 10 times during the course of their lifetimes before retiring. Hy Goldman is not of that camp. He has been working for the same company, Capitol Lighting, for the past 73 years - since June 1, 1941 when he was 28 years old, to be exact. And even though the World War II Army veteran lives in a senior housing community, he has no plans on retiring anytime soon despite the fact he recently celebrated his 101st birthday.

The family owned Capitol Lighting recently held a birthday bash for Goldman at its Route 10 East Hanover store complete with cake and ice cream.

Goldman is an artist of sorts. For the past 12 years he has been working at the East Hanover store where he has his own workshop he calls his “studio” on the second-floor.

Goldman takes broken and discarded electrical lighting fixtures and refurbishes them, adding wiring to many, finding blades for ceiling fans or adding new glass globes to transform old lighting fixtures into something brand new to sell in the clearance section.

So, why does he do it, why is he still working when just about everybody else lucky enough reach age 101 would have retired decades earlier?

“It’s the challenge,” he said. “It keeps me mentally going and my body still moving.”

He was hired at the original Capital Lighting Store on Springfield Avenue in Newark in 1941 by Ethel Lebersfeld, who co-founded Capitol Lighting in 1924 along with her husband Max Lebersfeld, an electrical contractor and immigrant from Austria-Hungary. The family-owned business is now under the direction of a fourth generation of Lebersfelds.

Goldman was working for Capital when he was drafted into the Army in 1943, two years after being hired. He came out of the Army in 1946 and rejoined Capitol.

“In those days we did everything,” Goldman said.

“There was no technology. We swept the floors and sold merchandise and set up displays. We unloaded trucks. We knew what inventory we had in our store by memory. Today you look it up on a computer.”

Ethel Lebersfeld was the grandmother of current Capitol Lighting Co-Chairmen Max and Herman Lebersfeld.

“I can remember the 1950s coming in when I was 10 and 11 and playing with the cash registers,” said Max Lebersfeld, who was on hand at the East Hanover store for the birthday celebration. “Hy was a fixture then.”

Goldman saw the growth of the company from the one store to its current status of four New Jersey stores and two in Florida.

Meanwhile, Hy Goldman, still comes to work four day a week, and still drives his car as he does so.

“What am I going to do, sit around and grow old?” Goldman wanted to know.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Boston Garden Towers $950M Mega Development

A 1.87-million-square-foot, mixed-use project, with a price tag estimated at $950 million, will soon begin to rise over Causeway Street and the Zakim Bridge. The Boston Garden Towers will be constructed on a 2.8-acre parking lot located next to TD Garden, where the old Boston Garden once stood. The three tower project would connect 497 residential units, 668,000 square feet of office space and 235,000 square feet of retail to the sports venue and North Station.

The massive development located at 80 Causeway Street will dramatically alter the face of the TD Garden.

The new complex, designed by architect Elkus Manfredi, will rise over Causeway Street in three new towers: two of them 20 stories high and one 45-story tower reaching 600 feet, built above a three- to five-story retail base.

A modern glass atrium will connect to a new entrance into TD Garden and to the MBTA's North Station.

Below ground, a four-level parking garage will be constructed to accommodate about 800 vehicles.

“We are creating a new front door to North Station, a new portal to the city,” said David Manfredi, of Elkus Manfredi Architects.

“We don’t want to create a mall; we don’t want to create privatized space. We want to create space that is inviting to the public.”

The $950 million development will include:
  •     40,000 square foot expansion of TD Garden
  •     560,000 square feet of residential with 497 units
  •     200,000 square foot hotel with 306 rooms
  •     668,000 square feet of office space
  •     142,000 square feet of flexible office space
  •     235,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space
  •     25,000 square foot glass atrium hall

Prior to leaving office, Mayor Menino had agreed to provide $7.8 million in tax breaks to help the developers lure the Star Market and build the underground parking spaces for the TD Garden.

The tax agreement will spread the relief over 15 years.

During that same period, the development is expected to produce $32.2 million in new tax revenue for the city.

Developer Boston Properties said the tax agreement was crucial to attracting a supermarket to the property and asserted the project will help enliven the area around the arena.

The massive project will be built in stages, with the first phase to include the multi-story retail base, a supermarket, a cinema, a 306-room hotel, and the 4-story underground parking garage.

Construction is expected to begin early next year.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New England’s Tallest Residential Tower, 691 Feet

Construction will soon get underway on a $700 million, 60-story tower, to be built on the edge of Christian Science Plaza, at Belvidere and Dalton streets. The new 691-foot skyscraper, which will include 250 hotel rooms and 180 luxury condominiums, will be the tallest residential tower in New England. The 950,000-square-foot plaza redevelopment project, which is expected to begin later this year, will also include a 26-story residential tower with 255 apartments.

The 60-story tower, located at 1 Dalton Street in the Back Bay, will be designed by Henry Cobb, the same architect who designed the John Hancock Tower in the 1970s.

His firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York, also designed the Christian Science Plaza and its signature reflecting pool.

The 712,500 square foot Back Bay tower, along with the adjacent 237,500 square foot residential building, will be located at the corner of Belvidere and Dalton Streets.

The 691-foot building is crafted in the shape of an equilateral triangle with rounded corners, a form designed to complement the adjacent Christian Science Church, which was built in 1896.

The Christian Science Tower will stand 99 feet shorter than the city's tallest structure, but will surpass the Millennium Tower and the tower set to rise at 5 Copley Square - both slated for 625 feet - as the city’s tallest residential building.

Overall, the skyscraper will be the third-tallest structure in Boston, behind the750-foot Prudential Tower and the John Hancock Tower, which stands 790 feet.

The 250-room Four Seasons will occupy the first 20 floors of the building, and 180 ultra high-end condominiums will be spread across the upper 40. The Four Seasons will continue to manage its existing hotel on Boylston Street.

The new Four Seasons is designed to complement the existing hotel on Boylston Street. It will have smaller ballrooms and conference spaces, offering more of a boutique luxury product

The tower will include two restaurants, two lounges, and a health club and spa.

Its residences are certain to be among the most expensive in the city, challenging the Mandarin Oriental and new units under construction at Fan Pier.

The Four Seasons is designed to complement the existing hotel on Boylston Street. It will have smaller ballrooms and conference spaces, offering more of a boutique luxury product

The project’s master developer is Cambridge-based Carpenter & Co., which also developed Boston’s Liberty Hotel and the Charles Hotel in Cambridge.

The project will fill a void between some of the Back Bay’s most significant properties.

“Right now, the Christian Science Plaza and the Prudential Center sit next to each other, but don’t talk to each other,” said Cobb, a Boston native.

“This project will be a new connection and bring this very important part of the city to life.”

The First Church of Christ, Scientist has been lobbying for a redesign for years.

Much of the reason is financial: Profitable real estate would make the site self-sustaining, so that donations to the church can be put more directly toward its mission.

The church also aims to bring its plaza up to date with a 21st-century approach to urban design, in which active public spaces are key.

The site attracts plenty of sightseers as the Christian Science faith’s international headquarters and a major Boston landmark, but it has not lived up to its potential.

The new project is expected to bring thousands of new residents and visitors to one of the city’s most celebrated landmarks.