Monday, November 18, 2019

Massive Columbia Point Mixed-Use Development

A massive 20-acre development covering more than 2.5 million square feet located on Dorchester’s Columbia Point will soon begin breaking ground along the Harborwalk overlooking Boston Harbor. 

The building site was formerly home to the now-demolished Bayside Expo Center, located three miles from Downtown Boston, just steps from the MBTA Red Line and only minutes to Interstate 93.

UMass Boston, the site’s owner, has hired a development partner to transform the site into a modern-day Harvard Square, planning for up to 3.4 million square feet of mixed-use development.

The university has big plans for the new neighborhood which will be integrated with the existing UMass Boston campus and includes academic, research, retail, residential, dining, entertainment, and cultural uses.

New buildings and landscapes are to take full advantage of the site’s waterfront location and maximize public access to the waterfront. 

Additionally, the project will replace an underground garage and create fund a new home for the nursing school.

Developer Accordia Partners recently finalized an agreement to lease the 20-acre site, signing a 99-year ground lease for the UMass Boston property with an expected value of $235 million.

The deal will provide some relief to the financially-strapped university.

Accordia was selected as the winning bid from proposals offered by 16 developers for the prime waterfront land on Columbia Point in February.

All the new buildings will feature state-of-the-art energy efficiency and be LEED certified. 

The entire project is expected be under construction for about 10 years.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Seaport Square Project Changes from Residential to Offices

The Boston Planning and Development Agency has approved WS Development’s plan to switch plans for its project at 350 Summer Street in Seaport Square from a residential conversion to 384,000 square feet of office and lab space.

Per the developer’s original September request, the building will be comprised of approximately 384,000 square feet of office and/or research and development uses and about 38,000 square feet of restaurant, entertainment, and retail space.

The building had been slated to host 350,000 square feet of residential and 72,000 square feet of restaurant-entertainment-retail.

WS Development has a potential office tenant lined up already too. Foundation Medicine, a Cambridge-based life sciences firm that has already leased 580,000 square feet at WS’ under-construction 400 Summer Street for its new headquarters, has a right of first refusal to take space in 350 Summer Street as well.

The project is the latest major life sciences-related real estate move in the Boston region. 

New projects from Somerville to Watertown and different parts of Boston, including South Boston and Allston, have been drawing interest from numerous biotech firms. 

No surprise, given the industry’s presence regionally—but still notable given that all these projects have been proposed in just the past 12 months.

The shift at 350 Summer Street has raised concerns about the loss of residential units in a Seaport District—and a Boston—that needs housing of all kinds. 

WS said that it would still build the approximately 3,200 units it originally proposed for Seaport Square, in part by shifting the mix of unit types to include smaller, lower-priced units and fewer large luxury units.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A 212-Room Canopy by Hilton to Rise on North Street

A new 212-room Hilton-branded hotel will soon break ground at 111 North Street near the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

The joint venture between CV Properties, Harbinger Development, and Olshan Properties expects to complete the $200 million building by the middle of 2021. 

The hotel will operate as a Canopy by Hilton, a brand that the hospitality colossus launched only last year with a Washington, D.C., development.

Canopy by Hiltons are supposed to be more integrated into their surrounding neighborhoods than other hotels from the company. 

The 111 North site straddles Boston Haymarket area and the city’s historic North End, so it appears to be a good fit for the location.

Aside from the hotel, the project is also due to include 13,000 square feet of retail space and restaurant space. There will be a 2,500-square-foot bar and restaurant, too, with views of the Greenway and a glass wall that retracts.

The Canopy by Hilton will join a slew of planned hotel projects in Boston along the Greenway. 

Developer Boston Residential Group plans to replace a surface parking lot at 55 India Street with a 12-story, 29-unit condo.

Other planned hotels include a Raffles-brand hotel in Back Bay, an expanded Onyx hotel in downtown, a Club Quarters in Back Bay, a citizenM hotel near TD Garden, and a new boutique hotel adjacent to Fenway Park.

What’s driving this hotel construction boom? Boston’s high occupancy and nightly rates—some of the highest in the United States—have quite a bit to do with it. 

Also the fact that Boston-area hotels historically sell for substantial prices when owners and investors decide to check out.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Dorchester Project to Create 207 New Apartments

A 1.81-acre parking lot at 780 Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester, that used to host the Phillips Old Colony House and Freeport Tavern, will soon be home to a new apartment building.

Camden, New Jersey-based Michaels Development, which purchased a controlling interest in the site, has plans to construct a six-story apartment complex. 

The project promises to bring in more much-needed affordable housing to one of Boston’s neighborhoods.

The new development will create 207 new apartments, with 92 studios, 94 one-bedroom apartments, and 21 two-bedroom units. Plans also include a 136-space parking garage.

Michaels Development bills itself as the “nation’s largest privately-held owner of affordable housing.” This would be its first project in Massachusetts.

The development will also cause the demise of another surface parking lot in Boston. The trend has gathered steam in just the past several months, with several new projects planned in downtown, Fort Point, Back Bay and Bay Village. 

The redevelopment of the site, now used for parking, is the latest in what’s becoming a trend for a city in need of housing as developers gobble up old parking lots and garages in favor of mixed-use developments in tightly woven neighborhoods all across Boston.

The trend is likely a result of not only the high land values in Boston—which make sales particularly alluring for lot owners—but the changing nature of driving and parking in the city.