Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New 14-Story Residential Tower at Lovejoy Wharf

Now that construction at Converse’s new world headquarters at 160 North Washington is essentially complete, ground has broken on the hefty residential building going up next door at Lovejoy Wharf in Boston's North End. Foundation work for the 155-foot tall 131 Beverly Street building, which will be separated by an alleyway and used separately from Converse, is now underway. Both the buildings will tower over the public waterfront pavilion that also connects the Harborwalk, a public path spanning nearly 47 miles of Boston's coastline, between the North End and Charlestown.

Spearheaded by Related-Beal, construction of 131 Beverly will yield 175 condominiums totaling 220,000-square feet of residential living. The first two floors will be occupied by retail, restaurant, facility and public-use space.

The residential building is part of an overall redevelopment of Lovejoy Wharf Related-Beal has undertaken that will transform a long under-utilized 2.1-acre waterfront site into the new world headquarters for Converse, residential and retail uses and a public open space on Boston Inner Harbor.

The new tower will be located adjacent to the 10-story new home of Converse Inc.'s world headquarters at 160 North Washington St. Retail will also line Lovejoy Wharf.

Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the visionary firm behind The Clarendon and One Back Bay, the new 155 foot tall 131 Beverly Street reflects the growing market demand for residential ownership opportunities in the city's newest neighborhood.

One of the most unusual aspects of the project was the elimination of a 315-spot parking garage. The logic? There's so much public transit nearby, why take up valuable real estate with a giant parking garage.

This move proved beneficial as it freed up more waterfront space that allowed for the implementation of public seating, plant life and a two-story pavilion structure that's situated directly next to a staircase which carries pedestrians down from the North Washington Street Bridge and connects to the Harborwalk.

The roof of the pavilion structure will be an open terrace for anyone to enjoy unique views of the North Washington Street Bridge, the Zakim Bridge and the Charles River if they're so inclined.

131 Beverly is expected to fully complete in the fall of 2016, barring any setbacks.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Developer Plans Huge Affordable Housing Complex

A Boston developer plans to build a block-long $225 million residential building directly above the Interstate 93 tunnel, a site between TD Garden and the North End that was left over from the Big Dig. Related-Beal is proposing to construct the 14-story tower with 239 apartments, each priced at rents well below the going market rates. The project would also include 10,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and a 220-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

Construction in booming Boston has fallen into a familiar pattern: large mixed-use buildings stuffed with expensive apartments, with developers kicking in only a handful of units as affordable housing. Advocates and officials worry that if the trend continues, Boston will become a city of the very wealthy and the publicly subsidized poor.

Developer Related-Beal recently unveiled a dramatic proposal that bucks the trend: a 14-story, block-long $225 million building on a prime downtown parcel near TD Garden with 239 apartments, each priced at rents well below the going market rates.

A little more than half of the units would be so-called workforce housing for middle-income tenants, with the rest aimed at low-income residents.

“This is a new model we hope will be replicated in Boston and other cities around the country,” said Peter Spellios, the company’s executive vice president. “We had an opportunity to do something unique and creative to address the extreme lack of affordable and workforce housing downtown.”

The average cost of the apartments would be $2.50 per square foot each month, the company said, compared to a market rate of around $4.50. Unusual for downtown, the project would include three-bedroom apartments to accommodate larger families.

To qualify for the 132 workforce apartments, residents would have to earn between 120 and 165 percent of the median income, which for a two-person household in Boston is $78,800, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The remaining units would be reserved for residents earning between 30 percent and 120 percent of the median income.

The location, a vacant lot directly above the underground Interstate 93, between TD Garden and the North End, is a leftover from the Big Dig.

The project would also include 10,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and a 220-room hotel, most likely a Courtyard by Marriott.

The surrounding Bulfinch Triangle neighborhood is as hot as any in Boston; just glance across Causeway Street to where the company is building Lovejoy Wharf, a $230 million complex featuring a new headquarters for Converse and 100 luxury condos.

Related-Beal is able to make the numbers work at lower rents because of the unusual nature of the property. The company owns a sliver of the site, while the bulk is controlled by the state Department of Transportation, which can lease it out for less than what a private owner might charge.

Secondly, the companyl has loaded a significant portion of the cost, including the lease, onto the hotel portion of the development.

And finally, the company shrewdly tailored its proposal to qualify for a laundry list of federal, state, and local tax credits.

The developer is even planning to use the $6.75 million it promised to put toward affordable housing during approval of its Lovejoy Wharf project in this new development.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

City Council Approves Mass+Main Tower Project

City lawmakers have voted to approve zoning changes that will allow construction of a 195-foot tower overlooking Jill Brown-Rhone Park in Central Square, citing the need for more housing and affordable housing. To ensure passage of the special zoning, developers Normandy Real Estate Partners and Twining Properties offered to make 47 of its 232 units available for rent below market rate. The builders plan to raze the existing single-story Quest Diagnostics laboratory later this year in favor of the 19-story residential tower. Ground breaking is expected in early 2016 with a goal of first occupancy beginning in spring 2018. 

Twining Properties and Normandy Real Estate are preparing to construct Mass+Main, a 19-story residential tower located at the edge of Central Square, near the Red Line stop. The development will also a seven-story, mixed-use building.

Community benefits range from highly sustainable mixed income housing, to new retail with a local emphasis.

The builders plan to  convert  the  former  Quest  Diagnostics  lab  buildings  and  lots  on  the  block  bounded by  Douglass Street,  Massachusetts  Avenue, Columbia  and  Bishop  Allen Drive, into  a  mixed income  residential  community  with vibrant  ground floor  retail and  new  public  passages  connecting  Lafayette  Park  to  Bishop  Allen  Drive.

Constructing the taller building (195 feet) along Massachusetts Avenue will minimize  any  shadows    cast over the  park  on Columbia  Street, and  will  cast  no  shadows  on  Lafayette  Square Park. The  second  building  along  Columbia  Street  would  be just  70  feet  high,  and cast no shadows.

Office  buildings  up  to  80  feet  tall  are  allowed  under  existing  zoning with  a Special  Permit. Kendall  Square  allows  up  to  300  feet  and  North  Point  is  above  220  feet  in  certain locations.

In order to secure a vote in favor of their special zoning request, developers Twining Properties and Normandy Real Estate Partners agreed to make 47 of its 232 units available for rent below market rate. Of that 20 percent, most would be considered affordable; the remaining seven would be considered middle-income.

  • Project sweeteners offered include:Permanent affordability for three additional housing units through Affordable Housing Trust Funds, bringing the total to 50.
  • Giving the city the front part of 65 Bishop Allen Drive for the creation of even more affordable housing when the city identifies a “transferee,” and so long as the developers get to keep the rear portion of the lot for parking and get their special permit. 
  • Promises to set up an advisory committee to give input on which retailers get ground-floor shop space created by the Mass+Main project, and programming for the seasonable public market that would be given a home. 
  • At least 8 percent of units in the proposed tower will be “micro-units” between 350 and 550 square feet, whose tenants won’t get to apply for a residential parking permit for a car.

Twining  Properties  specializes  in  mixed use,  urban, transit oriented  development with  a  strong  emphasis  on housing and  is  well known  in  Cambridge  and  Boston. Twining, working  closely  with  the  East  Cambridge  community developed  two  apartment  buildings,  local restaurants along  the  Broad  Canal  in  Kendall  Square. 

Normandy  Real  Estate Partners  is  a  leading  real estate owner  and  operator,  with  deep  local  ties, and  invests  in  properties and  communities  for  the  long term.  They are committed partners with the neighborhoods they work in.

The partners  hope  to  break  ground  in  summer  2016  with  first  occupancy beginning  in  spring  2018. Their goal is to reach full occupancy by early 2019.