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Boston's height limit: Will the city ever pierce 800 feet?

Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston

Boston, Downtown, Massachusetts, Scenic

In much the same way that the middle-class is unlikely to enjoy a renaissance in Boston, developers are unlikely to ever pierce 800 feet in terms of building height.

At least not for the foreseeable future.

The city’s tallest building by 2020 will be the same as it is today: 200 Clarendon (the former Hancock), which stretches to 790 feet at its tallest architectural detail, not counting antennae and other apparatus. 

The second-tallest will also be the same, too: The 749-foot Pru. 

The third will likely be new: The under-construction One Dalton hotel-residential tower in Back Bay is slated to stretch to 742 feet at its highest architectural feature. 

After these three, Boston’s 10 or so tallest buildings by 2020 will stretch little beyond the 700-foot mark. 

What’s holding the city back from building to 800 feet, 900 feet, (gasp!) 1,000 feet? The sagas of two arrested developments—both garage conversions, in fact—illustrate the answer.

Developer Millennium Partners had at one point proposed building a 775-foot mixed-use tower, including condos, at the site of the shuttered Winthrop Square Garage at 240 Devonshire Street. (Millennium bought the garage from the city, and originally proposed a still-significant 750-foot project, before bumping that to 775 feet in November 2016.)

Then concerns about the shadows such a tower would cast on landmarks slowed the requisite approvals. Then federal regulatory concerns about the effects of such a height on planes in and out of Logan slowed approvals some more. 

So the height started dropping—first to 702 feet and then to 691 feet at the start of 2018. The project would still pencil out to 1.6 million square feet of space, including 640,000 square feet of condos. But the height, it’s 84 feet off the boldest plan. 

And even with such reductions and a relaxation of state rules governing shadows in Boston’s historic core, the Winthrop Square Garage project remains uncertain nearly 18 months after Millennium reached a deal with the city to acquire the garage. 

Attempts to redevelop another Boston garage stretch back much further than the efforts at Winthrop Square. 

The Chiofaro Co. has owned the 1,380-space Boston Harbor Garage at 270 Atlantic Avenue since 2007, and has been trying to redevelop it pretty much since then.

Previous projects have included a two-tower complex that included hotel rooms and condos—and an ice rink as part of a year-round open space—and a single skyscraper with offices and condos.

Disputes with the neighbors, including the New England Aquarium, have held up the plans, however, and, while the single-tower proposal appeared to take a big step forward last winter, plans still remained up in the air.

That was until February 2018, when the Boston Planning and Development Agency proposed allowing Chiofaro to build a tower as high as 600 feet in exchange for establishing a fund worth up to $30 million to compensate the aquarium for any disruptions and to set aside parking for the institution. 

Chiofaro would also be on the hook for a so-called Blueway extension of the Kennedy Greenway. Moreover, open public space would have to be a sizable part of Chiofaro’s development under the BPDA plan.

All in all, the plan would allow for the tallest tower ever along Boston Harbor. Chiofaro appears amenable to the deal’s terms, including the aquarium’s indemnification against loss of visitors/business.

Still, the tower might yet tarry: The state could take up to two months to review the BPDA plan; then it’s another round of local and state permitting; and Chiofaro hasn’t settled on a final design to even propose.

There is also continuing opposition from the owners in the neighboring Harbor Towers complex.

An amalgam of regulatory hurdles, neighborhood concerns-slash-opposition, seemingly unchangeable infrastructure, and Boston’s simple geography appears to be the insurmountable obstacle to building beyond 800 feet. 

Meanwhile, the city continues to grapple with an infamous housing crunch that causes Manhattan-esque prices and to work overtime to draw and retain commercial tenants

What’d you think? In your lifetime, will you see an 800-footer in Boston? 

Seaport Square - the Cultural Corridor

Seaport Square ‘cultural corridor’ a response to needs of Boston’s artists, developer says

Replaces plans for larger theater

BY TOM ACITELLI  FEB 17, 2017, 11:00AM EST

 

WS Development

Apparent demand for smaller cultural spaces in Boston drove the decision to do away with a proposed 200,000-square-foot performing arts center in the last major bit of Seaport Square under development, according to developer WS Development and members of the city’s arts community.

The scrapping of the larger theater center at Seaport Square in Boston’s Seaport was part of a slew of changes that WS Development recently proposed. In the larger venue’s place will be what the developer describes as a “cultural corridor,” per Tim Logan and Malcolm Gay in the Globe.

That corridor is due to feature much smaller venues—which some in the Boston arts community say are more in demand than mammoth locations (just look at the recent acrobatics executed to preserve Boston’s Colonial Theatre).

Still, the change has rankled some who see the corridor in place of the center as a bait-and-switch—just a way to get the necessary nods to commence development.

However! It appears that the original 2010 Seaport Square master plan included caveats: re: a performing arts center, including its dependency on “local demand and funding.”

For now, WS Development is gathering feedback from the arts community about what the venues along the cultural corridor should look like, including how big they should be. That could take a year. And the full build out of Seaport Square could (and will probably) take into the next decade.

BEIGE BOOK REPORT - JULY 2016

Federal Reserve.gov

Residential Real Estate
Residential real estate markets in the First District remain strong. Five of the six First District states, as well as the greater Boston metro area, reported sales and inventory trends for the period May 2015 to May 2016; New Hampshire reported on trends between April 2015 and April 2016.

Closed sales of single-family homes are up by moderate-to-large margins in every state in the District, and pending single-family sales increased at a slow-to-moderate pace depending on the state. A contact in Rhode Island considers a summer slowdown "unlikely" in light of strong recent sales. Median sales prices for single-family homes are on average up modestly from a year ago--with Vermont and Connecticut reporting moderate price declines and the remaining states reporting small-to-moderate increases. Condominium sales figures varied across states. Closed sales of condominiums are up in all states except Connecticut and Vermont, while pending sales increased in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and decreased in Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont. As in the single-family market, median condo sales price changes are moderate, with the exception of a large over-the-year decline in Rhode Island. However, a contact in that state believes the decline is likely transitory because the data are prone to volatility.

For both single family homes and condos, inventory is down in every reporting region. In addition, number of days on market decreased from a year earlier in all states reporting such data, as did months' available supply of both single-family homes and condominiums. Contacts continue to attribute the lack of inventory to a combination of lack of new construction and a dearth of sellers coming to market.

Despite persistent inventory issues, contacts are optimistic. Those in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island all expressed a positive outlook, primarily attributable to strong buyer demand. They cite stable employment figures and continued low interest rates as the key factors supporting such demand.

Commercial Real Estate
On balance commercial real estate markets appear stable or improving in the First District. In greater Boston, a modest slowdown in office leasing is reported, especially for high-rent space, but rents are steady amid low vacancy rates. Office leasing activity held steady at a moderate pace in Portland and Providence, but in Hartford activity remains light and some firms gave up space. Investment sales activity is down in Boston from last year's brisk pace. However, industrial sales activity picked up recently in Boston and parts of Connecticut, and a Portland contact sees a strong industrial property market with potential for new construction. Throughout the District, office construction remains limited in light of high building costs. Infrastructure construction is on the rise in Rhode Island, and hotel construction is planned for greater Portland. A regional lender to commercial real estate reports an uptick in loan demand at his firm amid reduced competition from other lenders. The outlook for Connecticut's commercial real estate market remains somewhat pessimistic based on weak job growth in the state. A Boston contact expects the Brexit vote to exert downward pressure on economic activity in the U.S. and the region, but notes that the vote should also boost foreign investment in Boston's commercial real estate market. Elsewhere in the District contacts are cautiously optimistic for commercial real estate but see risks as tilted to the downside based on global economic and political uncertainty.

Millennium Tower: an excellent timeline for one of Boston's most iconic luxury residential buildings!mmm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://boston.curbed.com/2016/7/18/12211546/millennium-tower-boston-timeline

Courtesy of Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston

Currently Boston's tallest and certainly one of it's most iconic luxury residential buildings, 47 of the 442 condos have now closed.  With a timeline dating back to 2007 and all the buzz at cocktail parties across the Commonwealth (and beyond) , this is a momentous event in Boston real estate and a must read!  

Millennium Tower Boston residents will enjoy 5-star services, doorman, 24-hour concierge, plus access to an exclusive two-story Club with dramatic owner’s lounge offering private dining and bar, screening room, billiard parlor, library, private function room, outdoor terrace, children’s playroom, 75-foot lap pool and the largest residential-only fitness facility in Boston. Adjacent to the renovated historic Burnham Building, Millennium Tower will stand at the center of a reinvigorated downtown Boston, home to vibrant retail, and a new Roche Bros. gourmet grocery. Come see why Millennium Tower Boston is the evolution of luxury residential living.

picture courtesy of Millennium Partners.

 


 

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