Monday, March 23, 2015

Major Transformation Planned for Congress St, Quaker Lane

A development firm is preparing to transform a drab cluster of office buildings and retail space in Boston’s financial district into the mixed-use Congress Square. Related Beal has big plans for the 458,300-square-foot development, which spans an entire city block along Water, Devonshire and Congress streets. The project calls for two building additions, a new 13-story boutique hotel on Devonshire Street and a mix of offices, residential units, and retail and restaurant spaces.

The developer plans to renovate the six Financial District office buildings in the existing Block on Congress to bring 24-hour activity to an area historically dominated by financial institutions.

Plans includes 92,700 square feet of new construction: a cantilevered glass, five-story condominium addition above 15 Congress Street ; a three-story office addition to 40 Water Street; and the new 133-room hotel tower on what’s currently a vacant lot used for parking.

The hotel tower would be connected to the building at 68 Devonshire Street.

The ground floors of the buildings would include new lobby entrances and glass-fronted shops and restaurants that open up to outdoor dining areas on Quaker Lane. Quaker Lane would be converted into a European-style pedestrian area with suspended cable lighting between buildings, cobblestone pavers, sculptural seating and landscaping.

Buildings at 40 Water Street, 82 Devonshire Street and 33-35 Congress Street would be combined for innovation/¬economy office space and capped with a three-story office addition.

A new mid-rise building would be constructed at 54 Devonshire and a multistory addition will be built on top of 15 Congress, which is will likely be converted into a boutique-style residential building.

One of the most important changes to the block will be the development and activation of Quaker Lane, essentially an alley that runs through the middle of the property, which will link the Post Office Square and the high-traffic Faneuil Hall.

“For the last 40 years, these buildings have been restricted to private use and turned inward, cut off from the surrounding neighborhood and streets.

The design for Congress Square restores these buildings and Quaker Lane to a destination within the heart of downtown Boston.”

Related Beal has tapped integrated design firm Arrowstreet to spearhead the makeover of the buildings, the oldest of which was developed in 1899. Ultimately three of the structures will be marketed to specialized developers for conversion.

The company acquired what’s now about 343,000 square feet of primarily office space from Fidelity Investments for $87.25 million.

Related Beal hopes to start construction this fall and complete it in spring 2017.