Boston is riding the crest of what city officials say is the biggest building boom in its history, with cranes lifting glassy towers into place and raising the city’s unassuming profile. The surge of construction is also plunging some of its most cherished sites into deepening shadow, testing state laws that have long balanced economic development with protection of sunlight and open space.
The concern is not merely about preserving a glimpse of sky in the increasingly vertical downtown or about the risks of darkness to plants, historic buildings and even humans. It is also about whether the city is going down a road of no return by trading away, one piece at a time, its intangible assets, like sunlight on its signature parks and public access to its gleaming waterfront.
The city-approved plan allows for a 600-foot tower at the site of the Boston Harbor Garage, a 1,380-space, 70-foot parking garage owned by Chiofaro, with 50 percent of the project site required to be open space. It also allows for a 305-foot, 22-story tower at the site of James Hook & Co. seafood restaurant on Northern Avenue, which would call for 30 percent of the lot as open space.
The plan covers 42 acres of downtown waterfront — of which about 22 acres is filled tidelands, while the remainder is the harbor — and 26 separate land parcels. The public process to develop a planning vision for the waterfront began in 2013.
Three office towers totaling 113 stories and nearly 2.5 million square feet, already bearing the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s stamp of approval, are to be built near the MBTA’s Haymarket, North and South stations.
The transit tower trend ratchets up with Boston Properties’ latest vision of a 1.3-million-square-foot development at Back Bay station, including a 26-story office tower. And the BRA is getting into the high-rise act as it seeks an “iconic” redevelopment up to 700 feet for its defunct Financial District garage at 115 Federal St.
The 250-foot-tall building, designed by architect Howard Elkus, would feature a twisting, angular design out toward the World Trade Center and Boston Harbor. It was inspired, in part, by the city’s recent push for bolder design in the booming Seaport, Cronin said, which has prompted other developers to move beyond the boxy looks that characterized many of the neighborhood’s earlier projects.
“We had already designed a striking yet cost-efficient tower until I attended Mayor [Martin] Walsh’s speech last December urging developers to build more architecturally significant buildings,” said Cronin in a statement. “We decided to meet that challenge.”
The view of Boston from the water is one of the most photographed in the city. The South Boston industrial area does not get the same airtime as Rowes Wharf or the skyline of the Financial District. Rest assured, changes are coming as our city continues to expand.
The Boston Globe reports on “the biggest proposed changes that could emerge in the coming months: expanding what the city considers “marine” to cram more industrial uses on the remaining undeveloped sites. The updated plan could bring buildings that are taller or have bigger footprints. It could also provide for more lab space and new restaurants to serve the park’s estimated 3,500 workers. A second parking garage could be in the works, and improvements to make it easier for boats to pull up.”
This picture was taken of the former Anthony’s Pier 4
This picture was taken at the end of the North Jetty off of Fid Kennedy Avenue
The skyline in the Seaport continue to change with the approval of 3 more towers Boston Civic Design Commission.
According to a recent Boston Globe article, “the Boston Civic Design Commission gave its approval to the plans for three 22-story condo and apartment towers and retail along Seaport Boulevard. It’s the final city approval needed for the $700 million project, said Nick Martin, a spokesman for the Boston Redevelopment Authority…Unlike many developments in the Seaport, which have been criticized for being overly boxy, these buildings are designed with staggered heights and different shapes arrayed around an elevated podium with retail on the 3.5 acre site. It would include about 1,100 condos and apartments,- with the exact mix to be determined by market conditions – and 125,000 square feet of retail space. The buildings will be built on two blocks between Seaport Boulevard and Congress Street, between B Street and East Service Road.”
“The challenge you have in the city of Boston is: do we create too much supply and get to a point where we’re not seeing rent growth?” said Mitchell Roschelle, PwC’s national practice head of real estate advisory. “We heard this quarter in the survey a little bit of concern on the part of some investors about the new supply to the market. How that supply performs is going to dictate whether we see investors flooding the market with capital.”
The tenant retention rate was 68 percent in the first quarter with landlords offering an average of five months of free rent, according to the survey. Cap rates averaged 5.7 percent in the Boston central business district and 7.2 percent in the suburbs. Boston is one of 32 U.S. office markets expected to remain in expansion phase in 2015, the PwC report said, with employment generating demand for office space outpacing new supply…San Francisco, which shares many of Boston’s market characteristics, is expected to contract in 2015 and enter a recession mode with negative rental growth in 2017.
City officials are reviewing designs for 50 Liberty Drive, a 14-story complex on the South Boston waterfront. The L-shaped condo tower would be built on parcel D, which sits directly east of the 109-unit Twenty Two Liberty condo tower now under construction.The new building would include 15,000 square feet of civic and retail space, including areas used by the New England Aquarium, Boston Children’s Museum and the Boston Harbor Island Alliance.
The 21-acre Fan Pier project will contain up to 3 million square feet of mixed-use development. The Boston Fan Pier development, a 252,000-square-foot condo tower, is expected to break ground in late summer.