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Bostons Newest Mega-Tower

Major Boston Developments: 9 Projects Transforming The City.

By tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston

Boston is famously in the midst of a building boom—and not a moment too soon given the cost of housing in the city

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

Massachusetts Turnpike
Boston, MA 02215

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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

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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.

When all is said and done, the 742-foot property will be the tallest new tower in Boston since 200 Clarendon opened in 1976. It’s already the city’s third-tallest building.

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

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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

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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.

The building will be one of the tallest new ones constructed in Boston since at least the mid-1970s, and the BPDA’s approval caps nearly two years of back and forth on its height and scope.

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.

8. EchelonSeaport

133 Seaport Blvd
Boston, MA 02210

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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

The Six Boston Neighborhoods and one City Everyone Should be Watching Right Now

By Tom Acitelli of Curbed

darqdesign/Shutterstock

Major projects are driving a lot of change in different areas of the Boston region—in some more than others.

These are the six neighborhoods and one city everyone should be watching right now.


Back Bay 

Rendering via Pelli Clarke Pelli/Boston Properties

The under-construction Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences One Dalton Street—a.k.a. One Dalton—will be Boston’s tallest new building since 200 Clarendon in 1976

The 742-foot tower with 160 condos and a Four Seasons hotel is expected to open within the next 12 months. 

The neighborhood is also due to host a veritable forest of new towers around Back Bay Station

That project, which includes a redevelopment of the Clarendon Garage, is expected to total 1.26 million square feet of housing, offices, and retail, with at least one tower stretching toward 400 feet.

Fenway-Kenmore

Fenway Center renderingRendering via Meredith Management

The 30-story, 340-foot Pierce Boston condo and apartment tower, the tallest building in Boston west of Back Bay, officially opened at Brookline Avenue and Boylston Street in Fenway on March 1. 

Four weeks earlier, one of the biggest—and longest-in-coming—new projects in the Boston region got officially underway: The five-building, 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center where Brookline and Commonwealth avenues meet in the Kenmore Square area.

What’s more, the Red Sox are planning to transform several lots around Fenway Park. And, speaking of Fenway Park, its famous neighbor is getting a new name

The South End 

Rendering via ExchangeSouthEnd.com

An absurd rush of new development in the South End’s northeastern reaches is transforming the neighborhood—indeed, it might be time to come up with a new neighborhood name for this area.

Together, the fresh projects are adding thousands of condos and apartments, never mind hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail (and, inevitably, thousands of residents).

Then there’s the recent proposal for redeveloping the 5.6-acre site of the former Boston Flower Exchange. What’s now dubbed the Exchange South End would run to nearly 1.6 million square feet and contain four new buildings.

These buildings would total more than $1.48 million square feet of commercial, technology, and life science research space—the idea is to rival other regional commercial hubs such as Kendall Square and the Seaport.

Finally, a “millennial resort” is headed to the still-emerging Ink Block development. Don’t get more game-change-y than that. 

East Boston

Rendering of Suffolk Downs via HYM Group

A wave of new development is sweeping much of Eastie, but no single development—or potential development—is as portentous as what’s unfolding at the 160-acre site of the shuttered Suffolk Downs racetrack. 

It’s there that owner HYM Investment Group has put forward a general redevelopment plan with two paths. Both paths include 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 adjoining Revere.)

Now, should e-retail sasquatch Amazon pick Boston as host of its second headquarters, HYM would go with a so-called pro-commercial approach.

That pro-commercial path would be paved with the up to 8 million square feet of office space that Amazon is seeking in a new HQ. It would, too, include 7,500 residential units, 550,000 square feet of retail, and up to 830 hotel rooms.

But suppose Amazon choose Dallas or some such exotic placeinstead of Boston. In that case, HYM would take a pro-residential path, with 10,000 housing units, 450,000 square feet of retail, and 670 hotel rooms. 

There would also be 5.25 million square feet of office space.

Kendall Square 

Rendering via Elkus Manfredi

Kendall Square-based M.I.T. is driving much of the change in the Cambridge neighborhood.

At the start of 2017, the university paid the federal government a mint to take over the 14-acre Volpe transit center site, and then floated plans for what would be, at 500 feet, the tallest building in Cambridge.

The plans, which won a key zoning approval from the city in October 2017 (and which are rendered above), also call for about 1,400 housing units and 1.7 million square feet of offices and research space as well as acres of new parkland and plazas.

The university, too, plans to build several buildings south of Main Street, including a 28-story dorm.

Finally, there is the bigger-than-expected 19,000-square-foot Brothers Marketplace—part of the famed Roche Bros.’ chain—that is expected to open in the summer of 2019 at One Broadway. It is part of a larger M.I.T.-driven project called the Kendall Square Initiative.

Chelsea

Mass. Office of Travel and Tourism/Flickr

Silver Line service from downtown Boston into Chelsea is expected to start this spring. The five-mile route will run from South Station to a stop just west of Everett Avenue, and will facilitate connections to the Red and Blue lines.

An estimated 8,700 people will use the route daily, a figure sure to further boost Chelsea’s status as a Plan B for buyers and renters priced out of Boston proper.

The route will include an exclusive right-of-way for Silver Line buses once in Chelsea, where there will be four stops total. And, as part of the extension, the state will relocate Chelsea’s commuter rail station westward and spruce it up quite a bit.

Also, there are several small condo projects going up or recently opened in Chelsea, especially in the areas closer to Boston (though with decidedly un-Boston prices).

The West End

Robbie Shade

Enormous new developments around North Station and TD Garden are driving lasting changes to the West End’s streetscape and traffic. 

These developments including the Hub on Causeway, the first phase of which is under construction and is due to include 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.”

Then there’s the 44-story, 469-unit tower set to rise in place of the Garden Garage

Winning Strategies For Selling Your Property This Spring.

The greater Boston real estate market often logs in the largest number of sales closings in the Spring (2nd) Quarter each year; as the cold weather and snow give way to blooming flowers, warmer weather...and eager buyers! 

Often buyers want to enjoy the Summer in their new digs. Some want to have their children in place for the next school year, while others strategize to maximize their tax write-offs for the calendar year. Many just want to get their home purchase project done and over with!

If you want your property sold during the 2018 Spring market you need to get started.  Spruce up your property, assemble all the pertinent documents, hire a real estate broker and put your property on the market ASAP. 

The following topics are some of the most crucial elements that you should attend to before that first showing appointment of your single family home, townhouse, condominium or cooperative. 

Curb Appeal

As the buyer walks up to your property, their first impression often becomes their most lasting one. Make sure that their first view is as appealing as possible. It may determine whether the buyer will 1) go through with viewing the property. 2) make an offer...or not. 3) be willing to pay you a strong price.

I'm talking about increasing curb appeal with ideas like: repair cracks in the walkway, repair and paint the front steps, clean the litter and leaves out of the front garden of your building, replace worn hardware and touch up the chipped paint on the front door and make sure the entry foyer to your condo building is spotless. Not only does this first look affect the buyers initial emotional attachment to your property, it says a lot about how well the property has been maintained. In the case of a condo or coop building, it signals how willing your fellow owners may be to chip in on future repairs and general upkeep of the common areas; elements that directly affect the future value of your unit.

Let's Go Inside

Inside your property, there are numerous inexpensive ways you can make it show better. Clean your windows. Have your home professionally deep-cleaned. Place a few vases of fresh flowers in the main rooms. Increase the wattage of your light bulbs so the property appears bright and cheery. Clean the fingerprints off all doors, kitchen appliances and the bathroom mirrors. Clean out and/or reorganize your closets; a lot of buyers are coming out of large suburban houses where they are used to having a lot of closet storage. 

Most buyers are very critical when it comes to the kitchen and bathrooms. Be sure every surface is uncluttered and spotless. Store the extra kitchen appliances and put all the personal items in the bathroom away. Limit the number of personal photos on display; you want the buyer to focus on your property and not who owns it. And if you have some rainy-day money stashed away, freshen the paint with neutral colors and refinish your hardwood floors!

Repair those little problems that don't really bother you but that all buyers seem to notice. Repair that dripping kitchen faucet. Seal and repaint that water stain from the leaky toilet upstairs that you had fixed last Fall. 

If you’re aware of more costly repairs, consider doing them before you go to market. If the buyer doesn’t notice them, their inspector most likely will. And that can lead to unexpected renegotiations or even kill the deal. Replace that old hot water tank. Repair a roof leak. Repair or replace the decking or railings to that palatial deck.

Pets. Whether a prospective buyer is a pet lover or not, they want to buy a home that is immaculate. Pet odors, toys strewn about and damage to furniture, carpeting and woodwork can be a big negative. Some buyers are afraid of animals in general; they can be a real distraction. Although sometimes a logistical nightmare, best to not have the pet at home during showings. At the very least, have them crated somewhere private.

Assemble the documents and information you'll need to give to your real estate Broker.

Prior to going to market with your property, an experienced agent will ask you many questions about your property, from a dated list of your improvements to the age and condition of the heating system. Arm your broker with all the information you can. This way you'll shorten up the buyer's discovery period and get them to the offer stage quickly while their excitement level is still high!  

In the case of a condominium, put together a package including a copy of recorded condominium documents such as the Master Deed, Declaration of Trust & Rules and Regulations. Assemble the last two years of financial statements, association meeting minutes and the current budget. Make sure you know whether there are any upcoming assessments for capital improvements and/or whether your condo fee, coop fee or any other fees attached to your property will be going up within the next twelve month period. For all properties, give your broker copies of your utility bills (gas, electric, etc.) for the last twelve months and a copy of your latest real estate tax bill. 

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? 

Boston's Next Mega Tower

Boston's Winthrop Square Could See One of These Eight Mega-Towers

Courtesy of Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority just put out the formal call for proposals for redeveloping the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage in the Financial District. Per Tim Logan at the Globe, the BRA is looking an "iconic ... innovative" tower that could run to around 700 feet high, immensely tall for Boston and just under the limit the Federal Aviation Administration mandates because of nearby Logan Airport (no relation).

Eight developers and development teams have already proffered ideas for the garage, and, given the formal request, the BRA now expects more to filter in, including updates of the original eight. This octave gives a good sense of the sheer scope of any Winthrop Square development. Let's dive deep:

  • Millennium Partners, they of the game-change-y Millennium Place and Millennium Tower (Millennium!), pitched a 750-foot spire with 360 residential units and 14 floors of office space as well as 41,000 square feet of retail, including a market arcade. 
  • Thomas O'Brien, a former director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, would turn the garage site into a public plaza and then build a 780-foot tower with 700 apartments and condos across the street in a deal with the Franciscan friars who run St. Anthony Shrine Church. O'Brien would also build a public school. (For comparison's sake, know that the Hancock is 790 feet high.)
  • Accordia Partners would build a 750-foot building with 140 condos, a public gallery, retail and a 275-room Le Meridien hotel (it would join the one near M.I.T. in Cambridge).
  • A team that includes Hudson Group North America, developer of downtown Boston rental Radian, proposed another 750-foot tower, with 156 condos, 288 apartments, a 300-room hotel, public space and retail.
  • Trinity Acquisitions would build a 51-story building with 276 hotel rooms, 328 apartments and 261 condos.
  • The Fallon Co., which is behind so much of the recent construction in the Seaport District, pitched two buildings connected by a podium. One would be 75 feet and contain apartments; the other would soar to 700 feet, with 32 floors of apartments and 18 of condos. There would also be an open retail concourse.
  • Steven Belkin of Trans National Properties, who once proposed a 1,000-foot tower at the site (yup), is back with a 740-foot pitch now. It would include apartments as well as 100 condos (built by McMansion kingpins the Toll Brothers). There would also be a retail galleria; an "Innovation Sculpture Park"; and an "Innovators Walk of Fame." Belkin would also build on an adjoining site he owns at 133 Federal Street.
  • Finally, Lincoln Property Co. would build a 47-story tower with 29 floors of offices, a hotel with at least 250 rooms, six floors of condos and retail.

Developers have six weeks now to pitch the city. Stay tuned.