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Boston Medical Center to Break Ground on $270 Million Redesign Project

10 Mar 2014, 3:58 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Boston Medical Center (BMC), the largest safety-net hospital in New England, is moving forward with a multi-million-dollar plan to consolidate and renovate its two hospitals in the South End campus over the next three years.

Boston Medical Center

The Boston Globe reports that the envisaged medical facilities—Boston City Hospital and University Hospital which merged 18 years ago to become Boston Medical Center—will be transformed into a “patient-centered clinical campus” that will yield an annual benefit of at least $25 million through energy savings and the elimination of redundant ambulance trips between the medical buildings.

Estimated for completion by the end of 2017, the $270 million campus redesign project will be financed through a combination of private donations, bond financing and proceeds from the sale of the two adjoining buildings that form the Newton Pavilion on the former University Hospital campus. BMC’s overall footprint will shrink by nearly 330,000 square feet under the renovation plan, reaching 2.1 million square feet in 2017, the Globe notes.

The plan, which was approved last year by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, also includes new construction and renovations at the Menino, Yawkey and Moakley pavilions, while the Dowling Amphitheater will be demolished. A new bridge, that will facilitate the patient’s transport from the helipad to the medical center, will replace the yellow utility tube crossing Albany Street.

Under BMC’s redesign plan, the Emergency Department will expand by 30 percent to include new Urgent Care units and a separate behavioral health area, while the Intensive Care Units will be consolidated to one location on campus. Since the cafeterias at Newton and Menino pavilions will be closed, a new one will be created on the mezzanine level of the Yawkey building.


Image of Boston Medical Center via Facebook

Construction Is Underway at Northeastern’s $225 Million Academic Complex

3 Mar 2014, 4:13 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


Northeastern University – Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex

Nearly four months after receiving BRA’s unanimous approval for a $1.6 billion master plan for development, Northeastern University officially broke ground last week on its much-anticipated Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC) at 795 Columbus Avenue in Roxbury.

This state-of-the-art structure is Northeastern’s first major academic development project in a decade. Designed by Boston-based architecture firm Payette Associates to achieve LEED Gold certification and developed by Suffolk Construction, the $225 million academic facility will replace a 3.5-acre surface parking lot near Melnea Cass Boulevard and the Ruggles MBTA subway station, the Boston Business Journal reports.

Northeastern University - Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex - interior

Northeastern University – Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex – interior

Northeastern’s new development project is expected to create more than 600 jobs during the construction phase and another 700 jobs after the complex opens in 2016, according to the university’s announcement.

The boomerang-shaped facility will provide nearly 220,000 square feet of research and educational space for four academic colleges: College of Science, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, College of Engineering, and College of Computer and Information Science. The new building will raise six stories above grade and it will also have a basement and a mechanical penthouse. The conceptual design also includes a suspended footbridge over the MBTA Orange Line, commuter rail and Amtrak tracks. The bridge, called “The Arc”, will serve as a link between two distinct sections of Northeastern’s campus and is expected to consolidate the university’s presence in Roxbury while providing further pedestrian access to Fenway.


Renderings courtesy of Northeastern University

Waypoint Companies Set to Build 80-Unit Multifamily Building in Allston

17 Feb 2014, 5:38 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


61-83 Braintree Street

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) recently approved a new residential project that will transform a 30,550-square-foot industrial site along the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston’s Allston-Brighton neighborhood into a residential property with retail and office space for start ups.

According to the Project Notification Form (PNF) that was submitted for review in November 2013, developer The Waypoint Companies plans to demolish the two dilapidated warehouses at 61-83 Braintree Street that have been operated by plumbing supplier Thompson Durkee Co. for over 100 years and then proceed with an environmental clean up to clear the site for construction, which is set to begin in mid-2014 and be completed after one year.

Designed by Neshamkin French Architects of Charlestown, the 93,000-square-foot residential building will seek LEED Certification for incorporating environmentally sensitive and sustainable design elements. The $17 million building will feature 80 rentals (mostly studios targeting young professionals and couples), including 11 affordable units, and an underground garage with 67 parking spaces.

The project’s commercial component consists of 562 square feet of ground floor retail space, three community rooms, a roof deck, two truck deck parking spaces and 1,715 square feet of commercial space that will be used as short term incubator space for start ups. As detailed in the PNF, the developer will invest $30,000 towards improvements to Penniman Park and another $10,000 to conduct a local bicycle route study.


Rendering courtesy of The Waypoint Companies via BRA



Vertex Pharmaceutical Opens New Headquarters at 11 Fan Pier Boulevard

7 Feb 2014, 3:34 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A ribbon-cutting ceremony recently marked the formal opening of Vertex Pharmaceutical’s global headquarters building in South Boston’s growing Innovation District. Located at 11 Fan Pier Boulevard in Fort Point, the $800 million complex that broke ground in June 2011 consists of two, 16-story interconnected buildings designed to stimulate collaboration and attract new talented scientists to the 25-year-old biotech company.

Vertex Pharmaceutical HQ

The LEED-certified towers encompass 1.1 million square feet of commercial and retail space and were built by the Fallon Company, the commercial real estate developer behind the 21-acre mixed-use Fan Pier office complex, with Turner Construction as the general contractor of the project. The first building—50 Northern Avenue or Vertex Building A—was designed by the architectural firm Tsoi/Kobus & Associates of Cambridge, while design plans for Eleven Fan Pier Boulevard (Vertex Building B) were created by a team of architects from Elkus Manfredi. The two glass-faced towers which are connected by a walkway on the sixth floor include over 75 small informal collaboration spaces, a 500-seat cafeteria, 3,000 square feet of classroom and lab space for use by the Boston Public Schools (including Vertex’s partner schools Excel High School and Boston Green Academy), and ground floor retail space.

According to Boston.com, in May 2011 Vertex signed a lease agreement for the two buildings for a period of 15 years and will be paying the largest commercial rent in Boston (nearly $1.1 billion for the entire period or $72.5 million a year). Vertex hopes to bring all 1,300 of its Massachusetts employees together under the same roof by mid-2014.

“The opening of Vertex’s corporate headquarters in our Innovation District is an exciting day for Boston, for the Commonwealth, and for the millions of people around the world who stand to benefit from Vertex’s amazing work,” said Governor Patrick who attended the event along with Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

Founded in 1989 in Cambridge, Vertex has been one of the fastest growing companies focused on research and development of new medicines, creating more than 800 new jobs in Massachusetts alone over the past decade.

Rendering courtesy of Fan Pier Development

BRA Approves160-Unit Rental Building at 600 Harrison Avenue

24 Jan 2014, 7:01 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A development proposal to build an apartment building at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Malden Street in Boston’s South End District has been green lighted by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

600 Harrison Avenue, South End

Dubbed 600 Harrison Avenue, the 193,264-square foot project will be constructed by New Atlantic Development Corporation of Boston to address the city’s need for quality, rental housing. According to the Project Notification form that was submitted for review and approval in November 2013, the building will be located on a 25,496-square-foot parcel that is currently occupied by a surface parking lot owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

The $62 million residential building will contain 160 rental apartments ranging from 600 square feet for a studio to 1,600 square feet for a three-bedroom penthouse—with 21 units set aside for low-income families and individuals in compliance with the Mayor’s Inclusionary Development Policy—and around 3,600 square feet of ground floor retail space designed to activate the corner of Harrison Avenue. The six-story building also includes a three-level underground garage with 236 parking spots to be used by the building’s residents and the businesses in the area. The project will accommodate 32 covered bike rack spaces at several points around the building and a covered storage facility for 120 bicycles, all of these meant to encourage the use of bicycles as primary transportation.

Designed by a team of architects from Utile, Inc., 600 Harrison Avenue will feature a range of sustainable amenities that will make the completed project LEED Silver certifiable: proximity to public transit and bicycle storage, recycling collection spots placed in a central closet on each residential floor, high-performance insulation systems meant to control heating and cooling, energy recovery ventilation systems that will improve indoor air quality, low-emitting  paints and floors, as well as rooftop terraces with extensive planted areas.

According to the Project Notification Form, 600 Harrison Avenue is scheduled to start in August and reach completion by spring 2016.

Rendering courtesy of Utile, Inc. Architecture + Planning

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

225 Centre Building Adds 103 Rental Units in Jackson Square, More to Follow

2 Nov 2013, 11:29 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The intersection of Columbus Avenue and Centre Street, an underutilized section in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, is going through some major changes. Four decades after much of the area was bulldozed to make room for a highway expansion program that was never built, city officials and development partners last week celebrated an important milestone of an ambitious, $250 million redevelopment project of the Jackson Square community that will serve as a gateway between Jamaica Plain and Roxbury.

225 Centre – Jackson Square Boston

An official ceremony marked the grand opening of 225 Centre, which is the first phase of the 14-building revitalization project that broke ground in May 2012. Developed by 225 Centre LLC—a joint venture between Boston-based The Community Builders (TCB), the country’s largest non-profit developer, co-developer Mitchell Properties and contractor Walsh Brothers—and with substantial help from city, state and local officials, the $52 million mixed-income rental building is located close to the Jackson Square MBTA Station and just minutes away from downtown Boston via public transit, bike and car.

The six-story 225 Centre is the largest of the 14 buildings envisioned in the Jackson Square redevelopment plan and was designed by local architecture firm ADD, Inc. to achieve LEED Silver certification. It includes 68 market rate apartments with rents ranging from $1,700 to $2,850 per month and 35 affordable housing units—of which 10 will be occupied by tenants who are formerly homeless—an underground parking garage with 86 spaces, as well as four commercial/retail spaces totaling more than 16,000 square feet on the ground floor. Residents have access to a state-of–the art fitness center and on-site personal storage spaces.

The opening ceremony for 225 Centre coincided with the groundbreaking of Jackson Commons, which is the second phase of the multi-million redevelopment of Jackson Square. This phase of the project is being developed by Urban Edge and calls for the adaptive reuse and renovation of the 100-year-old Webb Building located at 1542 Columbus Avenue and an adjacent vacant lot and the construction of a new, four-story facility. When completed, Jackson Commons will offer 37 mixed-income rental units and approximately 13,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space, part of which will serve as headquarters for Urban Edge.

Rendering courtesy of The Community Builders

Construction at Northeastern’s GrandMarc Student Dorm is 50 Percent Completed

28 Oct 2013, 1:04 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

YMCA Greater Boston Building

Construction at Northeastern University’s GrandMarc, a residential building currently under construction behind the YMCA of Greater Boston on Huntington Avenue, has reached its halfway point as the final steel beam was added to the 17-story structure. The topping-off was celebrated last week by President Joseph E. Aoun, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, representatives of Phoenix Property Company and Suffolk Construction and other people affiliated with the project.

GrandMarc broke ground in August 2012 after two years of delays caused by some lawsuits filed by neighbors who did not agree with the site’s zoning plans, Boston.com reported. In an effort to meet the community’s wish to preserve the century-old gymnasium, several weeks before the groundbreaking the YMCA of Greater Boston and Phoenix Property Company reached a mutual beneficial agreement: YMCA of Greater Boston sold a chunk of its real estate—the gymnasium building and the Hastings wing—to Phoenix for $21.5 million, and the original gymnasium located at 316 Huntington Avenue avoided demolition. Furthermore, the agreement stated that Phoenix could start building the student dorm behind the YMCA property and then lease it to Northwestern, which could buy the residence hall at a later date.

GrandMarc Residence Hall

Designed by locally based DiMella Shaffer Architects to achieve LEED Gold certification, the 220,000-square-foot private dorm will accommodate up to 725 first-year students and upperclassmen enrolled at Northwestern. GrandMarc will offer a combination of individual bedrooms and two-bedroom units with shared bathrooms, along with student lounges on each floor and four classrooms located at basement level.

According to an official statement from Northeastern University, besides the $21.5 million spent with the YMCA acquisition, Phoenix invested another $75 million to build this residence hall. The dorm is set for completion in January 2015.

Once open for occupancy, GrandMarc is expected to solve Northeastern’s need for residential space. As reported by The Huntington News, in 2006 the university made a commitment to the city of Boston to add 1,800 beds. In fall 2009 Northeastern opened its International Village, a 480,000-square-foot mixed-use complex that includes 1,200 student beds in more than 1,000 rooms, a dining hall with 450 seats, six classrooms, a five-story administrative office building and nearly 3,500 square feet of retail space. GrandMarc will most probably fill that gap.


YMCA Greater Boston Building image via Google Maps; rendering of GrandMarc Residence Hall courtesy of DiMella Shaffer Architects


Merlin Entertainment Brings Legoland Concept to Greater Boston Area

24 Oct 2013, 2:42 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The first Legoland Discovery Center in the Greater Boston area is currently under construction at the Assembly Row development in Somerville, a much-anticipated neighborhood expected to open in 2014 northeast of Boston.

As reported by the Boston Business Journal, England-based Merlin Entertainments Group and Federal Realty Investment Trust of Rockville, MD, officially broke ground on a new, 44,000-square-foot indoor entertainment facility that will offer interactive Lego experiences for families with children aged 3 to 10.

Set to open in late spring 2014 as part of Merlin’s North American expansion plan, the $2.8 million attraction concept will be the sixth of its kind in the United States—the other Legoland Discovery Centers in the country being located in Chicago (pictured), Atlanta, New York, Dallas/Fort Worth and Kansas City.

Legoland Discovery Center Chicago

Once open, the Somerville venue will have around 100 employees. The site will include a Legoland Discovery Shop, 4D cinema, a Lego Factory Tour experience with an insight into how the popular Lego bricks are made, themed play areas and special party rooms, as well as a Lego Miniland exhibit area that will showcase Lego mini-versions of Boston’s most popular buildings and structures as nominated by the local community.

Owned by Federal Realty Investment Trust since 2005, Assembly Row is a $1.2 billion urban mixed-use project that is being developed on the site of a former Ford Motor factory along the Mystic River. When fully completed, Assembly Row will include 500,000 square feet of retail space, 1.75 million square feet of office space and more than 2,000 residential units designed.


Image via Legoland Discovery Center Chicago Facebook Page

Kavanagh Advisory Group Seeks Approval for R&D Facility

11 Oct 2013, 6:28 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Kavanagh Advisory Group LLC of Danvers, a real estate development and consulting company focused on complex projects in the Boston area, is planning to construct a large-scale research and development facility at the corner of Tide Street and Northern Avenue in the city’s Marine Industrial Park.

According to the Project Notification Form that was recently filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the developer proposes to transform the currently vacant 179,810-square-foot Parcel R located at 316-318 Northern Avenue and owned by the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) into an “innovation square” called 6 Tide Street/One Northern Avenue Place. If approved by the BRA, the site will be redeveloped in three distinct phases and the full build-out will result in a 355,000-square-foot, multi-tenant R&D/manufacturing facility featuring on-site parking that will most probably attract pharmaceutical companies. The $116 million investment will create more than 1,000 new full- and part-time jobs and around 650 construction jobs, the filing revealed.

The development team also includes Commercial Construction Consulting, Inc. of Boston, McPhail Associates, LLC of Cambridge and Transportation Engineering, Planning and Policy of Salem, NH. According to the filing, the team will also remodel a Silver Line stop located on the site and provide further amenities for the growing number of commuters using this line of transportation. Designed by HDR Architects, the four-story building will be seeking LEED certification under USGBC’s LEED for New Construction and Major Renovation.

Parcel R is one of the last vacant sites in the Boston Marine Industrial Park. For more than two decades, until 2008, it was occupied by the J.J. Daly Company, a distributor of stationary and office materials for large companies located in Boston’s financial core.

The proposed R&D facility is being marketed by Avison Young’s principals Karyn McFarland and Kevin Malloy.

Rendering courtesy of Kavanagh Advisory Group 

New City Plan Will Reduce Boston Homelessness by 2016

20 Sep 2013, 5:48 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

After detailing the $16.5 billion “Housing Boston 2020” plan that calls for 30,000 new residential units completed by 2020, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced this week another housing strategy that aims to fight homelessness in Boston.

Named “Bringing Boston Home”, the new plan was put together over the past four years by members of the Leadership Council on Homelessness in an effort to reduce the number of people living on the city’s streets or public shelters by 50 percent by the end of 2016.

There were almost 7,000 homeless people living in shelters, on the street, in transitional housing or enrolled in residential treatment programs at the end of 2012, according to data revealed by the Boston Business Journal. That accounts for approximately 3.2 percent of the total Boston population—a 23 percent drop since 2009—and an extremely small number as compared to other cities its size.

“Bringing Boston Home” will specifically address seven major issues that the city needs to solve:

-          Reduce the number of people living on the streets by half by the end of Fiscal Year 2014;

-          Find permanent shelter for 80 homeless individuals who use the city’s hospital emergency rooms by 2016;

-          Use Boston’s emergency shelter system only for short-term stays, not as a long-term housing solution;

-          Set up a system of regional services and support outside the city to help homeless individuals released from the criminal justice and social service systems find appropriate housing solutions;

-          Reduce the number of families facing eviction for unpaid rent by 25 percent by providing housing subsidies;

-          Allow and support access to educational, skill training and advancement possibilities in order to prevent recurring homelessness and promote long-term stability;

-          Create 225 housing units for homeless people by the end of 2016.

According to Boston.com, the plan already has $2.4 million in available funding, and another $4.9 million will be raised by 2016 through reprioritizing existing resources and attracting further public and private funding.

“We are going to help our most challenged and medically frail homeless off the street; make sure that the mentally ill, ex-offenders, and youth don’t unnecessarily wind up in shelters, and help families in subsidized housing keep their homes, even when unexpected circumstances make it hard to pay rent,” said Mayor Menino in an official statement.

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