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WeWork Joins Boston Startup Madness with Two Shared Offices

24 Jan 2014, 5:50 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Judging by the number of large companies that recently moved into Boston’s buzzing Financial District or are building their own high-profile business centers in the fast-growing Seaport District, the Hub is one of the cities that almost fully recovered from the economic downturn. While this translates into big cash revenue for the city, low vacancy rates and soaring rents have forced small-sized businesses to reconsider their options for office spaces.

WeWork – shared office space for startups

Just like in Detroit, where business incubator TechTown recently opened a shared work space, the startup scene in Boston is thriving and helping local entrepreneurs develop their businesses at a faster pace and lower costs. WeWork, a New York-based “boutique office space” firm that empowers entrepreneurs and startups by providing a collaborative community and services, will open two shared work spaces in Boston in February. According to the Boston Business Journal, the Hub will be the seventh city where the company provides startup-focused office spaces; the other WeWork locations are operating in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

By expanding its presence in Boston, WeWork hopes to reflect the growing entrepreneurial energy of the city. The two shared offices will target freelancers and emerging businesses and will be located at 754 Atlantic Avenue near the South Station and at 51 Melcher Street in the Seaport District.

WeWork locations across the U.S.

For $45 to $400 per month for a private desk or $550 to $3,000 for private offices at the WeWork location in Boston, entrepreneurs will have access to amenities such as high-speed internet and Wi-Fi, private phone booths, conference rooms, lounges and indoor bike storage.

Other companies that offer shared office spaces for startups in Boston include Workbar (which is seen as WeWork’s direct competitor because it is located across from South Station), the Cambridge Innovation Center, Bolt in Downtown Crossing or Start Tank, a business incubator backed by PayPal.

Images via WeWork

Apartments and Retail to Replace Vacant Bowling Alley in Dorchester

10 Jan 2014, 5:36 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Lucy Strike Residence Project in Fields Corner, Dorchester

Phoenix-based Lucky Strike Development is planning to enliven the former Fields Corner bowling alley in South Dorchester which was closed in 2007 after serving the neighborhood for five decades.

Located at 281-289 Adams Street at the corner lot of Park, Adams, and Lincoln streets and within walking distance from the newly renovated MBTA Red Line Fields Corner T-Station, the blighted facility would be completely razed to make room for a mixed-use building and an adjacent parking lot with 14 spaces.

According to the Project Notification Form (PNF) that was recently filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the $6.33 million Lucky Strike Residency Project will encompass 31,410 square feet, of which 7,900 will serve as ground floor retail space.

“The exterior of the new structure will be a combination of brick, large glass windows and clapboard; a decorative design will reveal elements at the top of the structure. The first floor front and both sides of the building façade will be brick with large glass windows to provide the front with a main street feeling,” the developer revealed in the proposal,

Lucy Strike Residence site plan in Fields Corner, Dorchester

adding that the project will provide more family-friendly shopping experiences to neighborhood residents and increase the quality of life within the community.

Designed by Davis Square Architects of Somerville, the three-story building will have 22 rental apartments—19 market rate and three affordable units—above four commercial spaces which could be sold to prospective business owners. The project design also calls for improved lighting to better serve the community, as well as a 1,200-square-foot open garden space at the corner of Adams and Lincoln streets.

A community meeting was scheduled by the Boston Redevelopment Authority for January 15 at the Kit Clark Senior Services at 1500 Dorchester Ave.

Renderings courtesy of Lucky Strike Development, LLC via BRA

BRA Approves $63 Million Dorm for Emerson College

30 Dec 2013, 8:59 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

As the Menino administration is coming to an end, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) has been busy unloading a number of development projects from its plate before Mayor-elect Marty Walsh and his staff step in on January 2.

Emerson College Dorm – 1 – 3 Boylston Place – Boston

One of the projects that were unanimously approved by the BRA during the December 19 meeting is a new residence hall that was proposed by Emerson College back in June. According to the revised Project Notification Form (PNF)—a scaled down version of the original plans submitted last summer, which called for a 260,000-square-foot building with 750 beds and retail space—the student housing project will replace a 24,631-square-foot parcel located at 1 – 3 Boylston Place off Boylston Street in Downtown Boston. The property was purchased by Emerson College in March 2010 for $3.85, according to data from PropertyShark.com. The site contains two red brick buildings slated for demolition or reconfiguration, as required by the design plans. As previously reported by the Boston Business Journal, the development site is located in a popular nightspot in the Cultural District and is currently occupied by a nightclub and two taverns until March 2015.

Estimated to cost $63 million, the LEED Gold Emerson College Boylston Place designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects will provide housing for approximately 407 students in single and double occupancy rooms with shared bathroom facilities. The 18-story building will also include resident assistant rooms and a resident director’s apartment, as well as an entrance lobby, laundry facilities, mail room and other support spaces.

Founded in 1880 as a “school of oratory” by Charles Wesley Emerson, Emerson College is a private university exclusively dedicated to communication and liberal arts. With around 3,500 enrolled students and only four on-campus dormitories—the Piano Row, Little Building and Colonial Building located on Boylston Street and the Paramount Center located at 555 Washington Street— Emerson College has seen a 10 percent increase in applications from 2013 to 2013. The new Emerson College Boylston Place residential hall is expected to address the need of housing space for the university’s growing number of students.

Rendering via the Boston Redevelopment Authority

Two Mid-Priced Hotels to Add 510 New Rooms Near the Convention Center

20 Dec 2013, 7:55 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The Hub is set to become a top convention destination as two hotel projects broke ground last week on D Street in the South Boston Waterfront, directly across from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

Aloft Hotel and Element Hotel – South Boston Waterfront

Mayor Thomas Menino, Mayor-elect Marty Walsh and representatives of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), CV Properties and Starwood Hotels & Resorts attended a joint groundbreaking ceremony for the new mid-priced hotels that will add 510 rooms not only to the area near the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center but to the city as a whole.

“This is the first of several groundbreakings we hope take place as we push Boston and Massachusetts towards being among the top meeting and convention destinations in the world”, said MCCA Executive Director James Rooney in a press statement.

The two privately owned and constructed hotels—an Aloft Hotel with 330 guest rooms and an 180-room extended stay Element Hotel—will be built on land acquired by the MCCA and commercial real estate development and investment company CV Properties of Boston along with Starwood Hotels and Ares Management as major equity partner.

According to Boston.com, the $140 million projects located at 371-401 D Street were approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in May this year as the first phase of the $2 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Both hotels are expected to open in 2015.

The Aloft-branded hotel will be a modern style building with fewer amenities specifically designed for short stays and targeting the younger generation of travelers. The hotel building will also include a business center, meeting rooms and retail space on the ground floor.

The Element Hotel will operate as a duplex-like, extended stay hotel providing a larger pool of amenities such as kitchen space, fitness center, bike-share and recreation spaces.

The MCCA estimates that the two hotels will generate more than $5 million in annual taxes after opening, as well as 370 construction jobs and 175 permanent jobs.

Rendering via the Boston Redevelopment Authority

$45 M Expansion Project to Add 94 Rooms to Hotel Commonwealth

13 Dec 2013, 5:20 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


The owners of the Hotel Commonwealth located in Boston’s historic Kenmore Square at 500 Commonwealth Avenue received the green light for a $45 million expansion project that will increase the building’s existing capacity of 149 guest rooms by 60 percent. 

As previously reported by the Boston Business Journal, the developer behind the project is Kenmore Hotel, LLC—an affiliate of hotel management, investment and development company Sage Hospitality of Colorado—which purchased the luxury boutique hotel in 2012 for $76.5 million from Boston University. The development team also includes Columbia Construction and Mortenson Development.

The seven-story, LEED certifiable addition designed by Group One Partners will replace a 23,000-square-foot open air parking site at the rear of the hotel which faces the Massachusetts Turnpike and Fenway Park. In addition to the 94 hotel rooms, the expansion project also includes three floors of private valet parking for 216 vehicles, a large ballroom, an outdoor terrace facing Fenway Park, five meeting rooms, and private event space.

Expected to open in mid-2015 after roughly 13 months of construction, the 133,400-square-foot structure is anticipated to generate nearly 100 construction jobs and 25 permanent jobs to support the operations of the new hotel facility, and approximately $1.03 million in annual property taxes for the City of Boston.


Rendering via Boston Redevelopment Authority

118 Luxury Condos under Construction at Boston’s Fan Pier

9 Dec 2013, 5:03 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Twenty Two Liberty Condo Tower Boston

A new luxury residential project that recently broke ground in Boston shows that the city’s housing market is bouncing back after a few years of economic decline. Twenty Two Liberty is the first high-end condominium tower to be built in the Hub in four years and it’s located at Fan Pier, a $3 billion joint venture between The Fallon Company and MassMutual and Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers as financial advisers.

The 14-story high-rise was designed by Childs Bertman Tseckares, Inc. (or CBT Architects) of Boston, with interiors by New York-based architecture and design firm BBGM, and is being built by Turner Construction. With an anticipated completion date set for 2015, the tower will include 118 condo units ranging from studios to three-bedroom with sizes varying from 500 to 2,900 square feet. All units will feature 12-foot floor-to-ceiling paneled glass, hardwood floors, modern kitchen cabinets equipped with Sub Zero and Wolf appliances, marble master bathrooms, Kohler fixtures and state-of-the-art guest bathrooms. Most units will have a variety of private terraces and balconies and 270-degree views of Boston’s cityscape and the harbor. The LEED Silver certified Twenty Two Liberty will also include ground floor retail space, dining venues, 24 hour concierge support, and private elevator access from the underground parking garage to each floor.

Preliminary sales at Twenty Two Liberty have already begun. Though the sales prices haven’t been announced yet, the Boston Business Journal estimates that the units could go on the market for around $1,500 per square foot.

“Twenty Two Liberty will embody our vision of Fan Pier as the ideal place to work, play and live on Boston’s historic Waterfront,” Joe Fallon, president and CEO of The Fallon Company, said in a press statement.

Located about half a mile east of Boston’s Financial District, the Fan Pier development site covers 21 acres spanning nine city blocks permitted for three million square feet of LEED certified office, retail and residential space.


Rendering via www.fanpierboston.com 

Skanska to Start Construction on $57 Million Academic Building for Harvard Business School

2 Dec 2013, 7:29 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Details of one of the key projects outlined by Harvard University in its revised 10-year Institutional Master Plan (IMP) that was approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority this fall were recently revealed.

Harvard Business School campus map – Kresge Hall

The university’s new Business School building will be developed by Skanska USA, the American development and construction arm of the Sweden-based Skanska Group. According to a news release from the company, the $57 million structure will replace the existing Kresge Hall, a three-story building in Allston (highlighted in HBS’ campus map at right) that has been used for decades for meals and reunions.

With an official groundbreaking set for March 2014, the new educational facility—named “Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center” to honor the $40 million gift received from the Dr. James Si-Cheng Chao and Family Foundation in October 2012 meant to support the new development project and secure fellowships for students of Chinese heritage—is expected to open in May 2016.

Designed by Goody Clancy architectural firm of Boston to achieve LEED certification, the four-story education center will serve as a hub for the more than 10,000 students who will attend executive education classes annually. The 87,000-square-foot building will be located near Soldiers Field Road. It will include classroom space, dining halls, offices and common areas.

Harvard University’s IMP for the next ten years also includes a new basketball venue with 3,000 seats, 250,000 square feet of new student housing and office/academic space, a 200-room hotel with conference space, as well as a mixed-use office and retail building that will replace the existing Charlesview Apartments at the intersection of North Harvard Street and Western Avenue.

Harvard Business School campus map via Harvard Magazine

District Hall Launches in Boston’s Innovation District

25 Nov 2013, 6:01 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Last month the first innovation building officially opened in the heart of Boston’s thriving Innovation District, a newly created “tech neighborhood” in the South Boston waterfront that serves as business incubator, co-working and conference space for startups in the Greater Boston area and public events place.

The $7 million District Hall building was created by a unique public-private partnership between the City of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), the Cambridge Innovation Center and Boston Global Investors (BGI) which financed the project.

District Hall – Boston Innovation District

Located at 75 Northern Avenue on the site of the former waterfront rail yards, the single-story District Hall was designed by Hacin + Associates in collaboration with landscape architect Reed Hilderbrand as a dynamic innovation hub whose architectural details are inspired by the area’s industrial past. The 12,000-square-foot facility is the first standalone city-sponsored innovation center in the country; it’s envisioned as a meeting point for emerging companies, where executives can exchange ideas (using the writable IdeaPaint walls incorporated everywhere in the building) and host business and social events. The steel and concrete District Hall includes Gather—a restaurant run by the Briar Group—and a coffee shop called Brew.

“Our team recognized the unprecedented nature of District Hall from the earliest stages of its conception.  At once a civic building, an informal gathering place, an urban lab, and a catalyst for innovation, the building demanded a design that was both formally distinct and programmatically flexible,” said Hacin + Associates President David Hacin in a press statement. “As the development of its surrounding neighborhood unfolds, we can only anticipate the unique and personalized ways in which people will interact with District Hall and the impact it will have on the City of Boston,” he added.

District Hall is operated and managed by the Venture Café Foundation, a non-profit organization under the Cambridge Innovation Center umbrella.

According to BostInno, Artaic and Design Exchange Boston (DxB) recently organized the “Design ‘N Gather Mosaic Design Competition” that was run at the District Hall building throughout the month of October. Artists from all over the world were invited to design mosaic murals that express the concepts of creativity, collaboration and innovation. Joseph Lyman’s “Building Dreams II,” which was selected by David Hacin as the work that best describes the characteristics of the three keypoints in the competition—the Innovation District as a whole, District Hall and Gather—will be installed permanently on one of the restaurant’s walls.

Photo: Gustav Holland, Flagship Photo via Hacin + Associates

Northeastern University to Expand with New Research Building

19 Nov 2013, 9:20 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) unanimously approved a $1.6 billion master plan for development proposed by Northeastern University in which the institution describes its need for new buildings and renovation projects at the existing structures for the next decade.

Northeastern University Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building

Northeastern’s newly approved 2013-2023 Institutional Master Plan (IMP) outlines 11 development projects including academic and research spaces, housing for undergraduates, athletic facilities, parking, as well as administrative and recreation spaces for the growing number of students.

As described in the IMP, Northeastern will be primarily focused on completing a 197,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building (ISEB) that will occupy a 3.5-acre surface parking lot at 795 Columbus Avenue. The facility will provide research, office and student space for the university’s College of Science, the College of Engineering, the Bouvé College of Health Science and the College of Computer and Information Science.

According to the project designed by Payette Associates, the boomerang-shaped building will have a basement, six stories above grade, and a mechanical penthouse. The plans also include a suspended footbridge over the railroad tracks that will serve as a link between the building (on its second floor) and the remainder of the Northeastern campus and provide further access to Roxbury and Fenway. There will also be a public café at the ground floor level and a 280-seat auditorium spanning floors 1 and 2.

Designed as a mixed-use facility consisting of research, office and student space, the $225 million ISEB will create around 630 new construction jobs and 700 full-time jobs for faculty and staff members. The project’s current target is LEED Gold.

According to Boston.com, construction at the ISEB building will be completed by the end of 2013. This will be Northeastern’s first project to kick off as part of the new, decade-long development master plan.


Rendering credits to Payette Associates

‘America’s Number 1 Digital City’ Welcomes New Facebook Engineering Office

10 Nov 2013, 7:46 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

If you’re passionate about everything that has to do with technology and communication and you’re looking to relocate to a vibrant city, then Boston might just be your best option.

The Hub was recently named the country’s Number 1 Digital City for its best practices in communication technology and public-sector information. According to the 2013 Digital Cities Survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government (CDG), a division of media and research company e.Republic, and underwritten by Accela, AT&T and NIC, the City of Boston was honored for its efforts to engage and connect with citizens by investing in innovation, using mobile technology and communicating through social media. The CDG recognized some of the city’s innovative projects such as:

•          Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics – the city’s approach to civic innovation focused on delivering transformative services to residents;

•           Boston’s Social Media Center – a set of social media campaigns meant to improve city operations and services;

•           Tech Goes Home – a successful initiative that provides the under-served residents the tools and education to become more tech-savvy and overcome the technological barriers of the 21st century.

Facebook Boston

“Cities that are investing in technology are seeing huge cost savings that are critical to operations and their ability to meet higher demand for services,” said Todd Sander, executive director for the CDG. “These cities are true innovators and we applaud them as they work in the spirit of collaboration to provide extraordinary value to constituents, despite budget setbacks.”

Speaking of communication technology in the Hub, social media giant Facebook confirmed it will open a new engineering office in Kendall Square. The announcement was made in a blog post by Ryan Mack, who has been with the company for two-and-a-half years and serves as the site lead for Facebook Boston.

In March we reported on this page that Facebook had tapped commercial real estate brokerage Newmark Knight Frank to find around 7,000 square feet of office space in the Cambridge Innovation Center area. With the new engineering office confirmed, Facebook’s recruiting staff can now start browsing through the growing talent pool of graduates to hire around 40 new software engineers for its Cambridge team.

Image via the official page for Facebook’s Boston engineering office

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