Boston real estate trends
By tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston
Here are nine major projects under construction that are not only transforming Boston’s built environment, but providing a real-time gauge of its real estate. How these go, so will likely go the commercial and residential markets overall.
1. Fenway Center
Boston, MA 02215
Developers Meredith Management, Gerding Edlen, and TH Real Estate officially broke ground in late January 2018 on the five-building, 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center where Brookline and Commonwealth avenues meet.
The groundbreaking capped veritable eons of planning and readjustments for what’s become one of Boston’s most anticipated projects. Lead developer John Rosenthal of Meredith had been trying to build at the 4.5-acre site for nearly 20 years.
The infrastructural alchemy inherent in the project, which includes building over the Mass. Pike, as well as financing challenges had delayed it interminably.
All totaled, it’s expected to have around 650 housing units, 160,000 square feet of offices, 50,000 square feet of retail, 1,290 parking spaces, community space, a daycare center, bicycle storage, and a bike-share station.
The first phase includes two apartment buildings with 313 units total.
2. The Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences One Dalton Street
1 Dalton St
Boston, MA 02199
The Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences One Dalton Street—a.k.a. One Dalton—is almost finished, according to developer Carpenter & Company.
Workers with Suffolk Construction have raised the condo and hotel tower to its 60th floor and have been adding about one and a half floors per week. That means it will soon reach its 61st and final floor any minute now.
And, due to myriad reasons that include construction costs, a dearth of sites, and shadows, One Dalton will likely be the last Boston tower—the last New England tower—of more than 700 feet for a long, long while.
One Dalton is due to include 215 Four Seasons hotel rooms that the international hospitality firm will manage and 160 luxury condos (which Four Seasons will also service). The architect is a collaboration between Cambridge Seven Associates and Henry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed. Cobb, incidentally, designed 200 Clarendon (formerly known as the Hancock).
One Dalton is expected to top off in July, and to start opening in March 2019.
3. Back Bay/South End Gateway
100 Clarendon St
Boston, MA 02116
Developer Boston Properties plans to build 1.26 million square feet of housing, offices, and retail over and around Back Bay Station (and to redevelop the garage at 100 Clarendon Street in the process).
The Boston Planning & Development Agency signed off on the plans in November 2017, capping well over a year of wrangling, in particular because of the shadows it would likely cast. One of its three new towers is expected to reach 364 feet.
Boston Properties reached a deal with opponents concerned about the shadows just before the November vote. The developer will pay $3 million to opponents such as the Old South Church to mitigate the impact and a further $3 million to an affordable housing fund that Boston runs.
The project is envisioned as a kind of transformative gateway connecting Back Bay and the South End; and includes improvements to the station itself.
Rendering via Pelli Clarke Pelli/Boston Properties
4. The Hub on Causeway
100 Legends Way
Boston, MA 02114
Developers Boston Properties and Delaware North officially broke ground in January 2016 on the humongous project at the old Boston Garden site. It continues to unfold and is part of a forest of new development around North Station.
Ultimately, what’s dubbed the Hub on Causeway will mean more than 1.5 million square feet of shops, restaurants, offices, hotel rooms, and residences, as well as an expansion of nearby TD Garden and transit improvements to North Station.
Phase I is expected to wrap in 2018 (it topped off in January). It includes flourishes such as the city’s largest supermarket; a 15-screen movie theater; 10,000 square feet of outdoor space for a new entrance to TD Garden and North Station; and 175,000 square feet of what the developers are calling “creative office space.”
Phase II will include a 440-unit, 38-floor residential tower and a 260-key, 10-floor micro-hotel; and Phase III is an office tower with a proposed height of 495 feet.
The Hub on Causeway under construction in March 2018. Boston Globe via Getty Images
5. Bulfinch Crossing
100 Sudbury St
Boston, MA 02114
The ongoing conversion of the 2,300-space garage at 50 Sudbury Street is expected to produce 812 residential units, 196 hotel rooms, 1.15 million square feet of office space, and 85,000 square feet of retail.
Dubbed Bulfinch Crossing, The conversion will produce six buildings with 2.9 million square feet total. (Here is a cool timelapse video of part of Government Center Garage being demolished.)
Interestingly, in the summer of 2017, HYM announced that 118 apartments in the project’s 45-story, 486-unit rental tower were going condo instead—likely a nod to Boston’s incandescent sales market. The HYM Investment Group, the developer behind the project, expects to finish that residential tower by 2020.
6. Winthrop Square Garage tower
115 Devonshire St
Boston, MA 02109
The Boston Planning & Development Agency in mid-May 2018 approvedthe development of the former Winthrop Square Garage in the Financial District into a 690-foot tower of condos and offices.
It was once slated to stretch to 775 feet, making it the second-tallest building in Boston—in New England—behind 200 Clarendon. As it looks now, the Winthrop Square tower will still rank among the 10 tallest in the city and the larger region.
But! The BPDA wants developer Millennium Partners to reexamine the 1.6 million-square-foot tower’s size and density before it can get building permits. Whether that reexamination leads to any (other) changes still remains to be seen, though.
As of early July 2018, the BPDA signoff appeared to be the tower’s last major hurdle to development. The garage itself has been demolished in preparation for construction.
Rendering via Handel Architects
7. Omni Boston Seaport Hotel
370-430 Summer St
Boston, MA 02210
What will be the fourth-largest hotel in Boston got officially underway in late May 2018 with a groundbreaking that drew VIPs such as Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh.
The $550 million Omni Boston Seaport Hotel will plant 1,055 rooms on Summer Street across from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in the Seaport District.
The project goes back to 2017, when the Massachusetts Port Authority designated a development team that includes Omni Hotels & Resorts to build on a state-owned parcel in order to boost the room count in an area still underserved hospitality-wise—despite the convention center being right there.
The 21-story complex will include 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space of its own, including the largest hotel ballroom in the Seaport District. Interestingly, too, six local nonprofits will share in the hotel’s profits; and the developers pointed out in the spring of 2018 that the Omni inn will create between 700 and 1,000 permanent jobs.
There is one potential snag for the whole affair, which is supposed to be finished in 2020: Money management giant Fidelity Investments has sued the developers over the name. Fidelity’s own Seaport Hotel opened in the neighborhood 20 years ago.
The two sides continue to wrangle as of early July.
133 Seaport Blvd
Boston, MA 02210
Developer Cottonwood Management officially broke ground in June 2017on this 1.33 million-square-foot project on 3.5 acres of very, very valuable land at B Street and Seaport Boulevard. Sales started about 10 months later (and the units ain’t cheap).
The three-building project is set to have 717 apartments and condos. Its 447 condos will constitute the largest single amount of for-sale housing in the Seaport District. A third tower will have apartments.
EchelonSeaport will include 50,000 square feet of in-house amenities—among them two outdoor pools, a fitness center, and two so-called sky lounges—and a 19,000-square-foot landscaped plaza accessible to the public and 125,000 square feet of restaurants and retail over two levels.
There will also be enough parking in two garages for each condo to have one space.
The towers are expected to start opening in late 2019.
9. Suffolk Downs
525 William F McClellan Hwy
Boston, MA 02128
The Boston Planning and Development Agency in early February 2018signed off on plans for two office buildings at the site of the shuttered Suffolk Downs racetrack on the Boston-Revere line off the busy, busy Blue Line.
That was the second key approval the site received toward the start of 2018, with the state expediting an environmental green light for redevelopment there. And the city’s zoning appeals board green-lighted the office-building construction shortly after the BPDA approval.
Why all the thumbs-up? Because if one site in the Boston area is going to host Amazon’s second headquarters, it’s the 161-acre East Boston parcel. The area was among the 20 finalists for that second HQ that Amazon named shortly after the start of 2018.
Come what may, Suffolk Downs developer HYM Investment Group plans to build big, big, big at the juicily located site, near as it is to two Blue Line stops and Logan Airport. With or without Amazon, HYM plans on 16.5 million square feet of new residential, retail, office, hotel, and lab space built out over as long as two decades.
Eleven million square feet of that would go in Boston and 5.5 million in Revere.
Rendering via HYM Group
by Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston
Commonwealth Building Renderings courtesy of Related Beal
Developer Related Beal has filed detailed plans with the Boston Planning & Development Agency that would add two new buildings to Kenmore Square—one of which Boston’s most famous sign would bestride.
The plans include incorporating 660 Beacon Street, which has been holding up the famed 60-foot-by-60-foot Citgo sign since 1965, into one of the new buildings.
The prolific Related Beal bought 660 Beacon and several other buildings in the area in 2016, touching off speculation that the sign was doomed.
Organized opposition to its demolition arose even before the sale, when former owner Boston University announced it was putting the buildings on the block. Related Beal and the oil concern behind the sign struck a deal in March 2017 intended to keep the clarion beaming for decades.
And it will likely do so from atop a major office development, as the recently filed details make plain.
Plans include construction of an eight-story property called the Commonwealth Building at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Deerfield Street. It would have 130,000 square feet of modern office space, 10,000 square feet of retail, 60 underground parking spaces, and rooftop terraces with what Related Beal describes in a release as “unmatched views of Kenmore Square and the Charles River.”
As for 660 Beacon, it would be renovated and incorporated into a 143,000-square-foot Beacon Building, per the developer, “an adaptive re-use development that will include more than 110,000 square feet of re-positioned office space and 18,000 square feet of retail space.”
Related Beal expects the office space to go quickly in the Boston-area’s rather scorching office market. It cited a recent brokerage report which concluded that “[office] vacancies in Boston and Cambridge will remain at or near all-time lows.”
The developer wants to start construction during the first three months of 2019. Stay tuned.