0 Empty store space in Downtown Crossing may become offices

Does the Amazon effect play into retail vacancy in Boston?  We, in short yes.  How we shop and what we shop for online has changed and will continue to do so.  Retail is still vibrant and strong, but not all retail spaces are created equal.  Some historical retails spaces are better suited for office which in part has to do their size and proximity to public transit.

An example of this transformation is the Cambridge Side Galleria Mall in the East Cambridge.  The red hot Kendal office and lab market will continue to gobble up under performing assets.

An empty storefront near 560 Washington St.

By Tim Logan GLOBE STAFF  APRIL 12, 2019

One of the biggest retail spaces in Downtown Crossing may soon become home to offices.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency on Thursday approved plans by the owner of Lafayette City Center to convert much of its long-empty ground floor into office space, perhaps to house the state agency that handles workers’ compensation claims.

The move by veteran Boston developers The Abbey Group highlights the soft market for large-format retailers as they face mounting online competition. The change also has something to do with the particular quirks of the building, which was built in the 1980s as the inward-facing Lafayette Place Mall before being repositioned as storefronts with office space above.

The proposed change also is raising concerns in some quarters about a block and a half of Washington Street in the busy shopping district being converted to office space.

Much of the building’s ground floor — about 75,000 square feet — has been empty for at least 15 years. The last sizable tenant, an Eddie Bauer outlet store, closed in early 2016. Abbey and its brokers have struggled to fill the space. Among other challenges, the first floor is as much as 7 feet higher than street level in places — a design quirk of the old indoor mall and its underground garage.

“We think of ourselves as creative developers who apply innovative thinking to problems like this,” Abbey chief operating officer David Epstein said. “It simply isn’t feasible” to use the space for retail, he said.


But Abbey has leased more than 500,000 square feet of office space on the floors above street level, mostly to tech companies. When the state began looking for 33,700 square feet to house its Division of Industrial Accidents — which needs to move out of the Government Center Garage ahead of a redevelopment there — Abbey offered up the ground floor.

A spokesman for the state’s real estate agency said it received five proposals for the office, including Lafayette Center. A final decision has not been made, he said.

Workers’ compensation courtrooms may not be the sort of retail and restaurant Downtown Crossing is known for, but it fits with other legal offices around the neighborhood, said Rosemarie Sansone, president of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District.

“This place has been empty for 20 years,” she said. “They found an unusual and interesting use for it. This is all good.”

Still, the shift comes as several key locations sit empty along Washington Street, from Lafayette Center to the long-shuttered Barnes & Noble (which is now being renovated by a new owner) to a cluster of empty storefronts at Washington and Bromfield streets that have been largely dark since plans to build a skyscraper there stalled in 2016.

Sansone acknowledged the empty buildings but also noted that several restaurants and stores have opened in and around Downtown Crossing in recent years. Building owners and the BID, she said, are aiming to bring in more retailers to cater to residents and workers who fill nearby office towers, including a day care center, pet stores, and more home goods stores. She also said Trader Joe’s is considering opening a grocery store in the neighborhood, though a Trader Joe’s spokeswoman would not confirm that.


Some landlords on Washington Street, Sansone said, are being patient, waiting for the right tenant.

“There have been some deliberate attempts to make sure that whatever comes is going to be successful, that it’s what people want,” she said.

One BPDA board member Thursday asked Epstein about the wisdom of leaving retail space like Lafayette Center vacant for years, especially given the effect on foot traffic for neighboring businesses.

“It’s a form of job destruction,” Carol Downs said. “I don’t really understand why this space was let to stay empty for so long.”

Epstein said the market has shifted away from the larger-format retailers it originally envisioned would lease at Lafayette City Center, and the technical challenges of opening in the building were too great for smaller stores. Filling two-thirds of the long empty storefront with office workers will bring foot traffic and, he hopes, will make it easier to rent the rest of the vacant space.

“We’re excited about the prospect,” Epstein said.

Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.

0 Could Track 61 Offer Rail Service throughout the Seaport?

Seaport train location

Credit: Boston Globe

Can track 61 save the Seaport from its own success? To be clear, it could help and we could use it.

From the Boston Globe:

Originally a freight line that was part of the industrial rail yards along the South Boston Waterfront, Track 61 has been unused for many years while around it a new neighborhood of glass-walled offices, luxury condos, and hip restaurants has sprung up.

The roughly 1.5-mile spur [that] cuts across the Seaport District from the southwestern edge of South Boston…is coming back to life [to test] new Red Line subway cars that are being built for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Springfield.

The work will include an electrified third rail along Track 61 to power the Red Line cars, a new shed, and other improvements.

0 Available Office Space in Back Bay: 745 Boylston Street

Back bay office building

745 Boylston Street in Boston’s Back Bay

Boston Realty Advisors has been retained by Upland Capital to exclusively represent 745 Boston Street in Boston’s Back Bay. The building is a 112,000 square foot 8 story building with Verizon and Max Brenner as the retail tenants.

The building currently has just over 18,000 square feet available and can accommodate tenants from 1,700 – 12,000.

Building Details
• 745 Boylston Street Back Bay
• Property Brochure
• Floor plan


0 Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

Boston Realty Advisors represented Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street search for a new location in the Financial District. According to Wil Catlin, Managing Principal at Boston Realty Advisors, 177 Milk Street was the perfect fit for Chris’s new venture. The building known as the Grain Exchange was completed in 1892 and sits one South from the Custom House on the Greenway. The space occupied by Milk Street is on the retail level with direct access from India Street with expansive ceilings and windows.

Client Testimonial Tenant Representation from Boston Realty Advisors on Vimeo.

0 Checking in on Boston’s Innovation Economy

cambridge co working office space

WeWork Cambridge

Success and failures is measured more clearly with the benefit of time. Have a peak at how the innovative economy has performed in recent history on BetaBoston:

[Boston] startups [collected] $7.4 billion in funding this year — a 30 percent jump from 2014…[and] higher than any year since 2000, when dot-com mania pushed investment in Massachusetts startups above $10 billion, according to the financial data provider PitchBook. A single company in Cambridge, Moderna Therapeutics, announced a $450 million funding roundback in January — the biggest private funding infusion for a biotech startup ever.

0 Tech Sectors Driving Boston Office Market Growth

Tech tenants are driving office demand nationwide with Boston ranking number 7 falling just behind Seattle.  To be classified as a tech talent market, there must be a labor pool of at least 50,000.

Desired Options:

·         Food Options
·         Shopping
·         Wellness Center
·         Outdoor Space
·         Recreation Room
·         Onsite Daycare
·         Bike Storage/Bike Rental
·         Zip Car

Cool office space in Boston

Credit: Forbes

To view some of Boston’s coolest office designs, check out Forbes’ online gallery.

0 Boston Ranks Among Top 10 Most-Innovative Cities

Boston is No. 1 among our peers for innovation.  Let us help bring your ideas to life.

The BBJ looked into the details of a NerdWallet study, noting “Boston didn’t score as well around patents per capita, receiving 4.83 patents per 1,000 residents over a four-year span; San Jose scored highest with 27.39 patents per capita. But Boston did score well when it comes to venture capital per capita, raking in $948.58 per capita — right below Boulder, Colorado ($963.75) and San Jose ($3,585.68).”

You can read the full article on the BBJ.

0 Largest Office Buildings in Boston

John Hancock Tower in Boston MA

Click on the image to view the John Hancock Tower property detail page

Which office building in Boston stands the tallest, and how does yours rank?  In Boston’s Back Bay, the John Hancock Towers reigns supreme.

Some facts about the building:

  • 60 Stories
  • Designed by Henry N. Cobb of the firm I. M. Pei & Partners
  • Completed in 1976
  • It has been the tallest building in Boston and New England for more than 30 years

The Boston Business Journal has put together a list of the top 25 largest office buildings in Greater Boston, ranked by Total Rentable Building Area.

biggest office buildings in Boston

Credit: Boston Business Journal

0 Boston Cab Union Protests Uber

Uber in Boston

Credit: Boston Business Journal

Do you Uber when you are touring office space for lease in Boston?  Well, yes.  Will Uber be here tomorrow or with the Cab Union prevail?

The Boston Business Journal reported that “the union, representing 1,400 cab drivers, is calling on Boston Mayor Marty Walshand Police Commissioner William Evans to order all UberX and UberXL for-hire vehicles off the streets of Boston until the city can regulate and license all Uberdrivers and cars.”

Follow the link to view the full BBJ article for details on the Cab Union Uber protests.

0 International Place to Host Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Boston Ballet putting on a performance of The Nutcracker

Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Call me old fashioned, but I love group gatherings and large-scale events, like the Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker.  I am always thankful that owners like the The Chiofaro Co. of International Place host festive, public events for all to come and appreciate.

Additional coverage is available on the Boston Business Journal.

Also, on newscast in recent days, there was a great flash mob event by the United States Air Force Band at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington: