Exhibition hall giving way to more privately owned public space on the Boston waterfront, including a plaza with year-round programming
The nearly 120,000-square-foot Commonwealth Hall exhibition space at the Seaport World Trade Center on the Boston waterfront will disappear under a redevelopment plan for the complex.
The Boston Planning and Development Agency signed off July 11 on a plan from Pembroke, the real estate arm of trade center leaseholder Fidelity Investments, to drastically revamp the complex.
The redevelopment—which is expected to start next year and to wrap entirely in 2024—will include a 25,000-square-foot privately owned public plaza known as Harbor Plaza, with landscaping, seating, and programming year-round, according to a release from Pembroke.
In total, the project is due to produce around 170,445 square feet of “new or enhanced outdoor public space,” Pembroke said. The developer also said the project “will not add substantial density and height,” and will preserve the trade center’s “mercantile waterfront roots.”
The redevelopment also means 45,000 square feet of retail within a new street-front colonnade in the trade center’s head house—a significant increase from the volume of retail space there now—and a new Seaport Hotel ballroom. The amount of office space at the trade center, all of it for Fidelity, is expected to total nearly 640,000 square feet.
Pembroke is planning waterfront-related transportation changes, too, including more berths, expanded ticketing and queuing areas, and new covered waiting spaces. The developer also plans to add dock space for what it calls a future water shuttle stop on Commonwealth Pier.
The revamped Seaport World Trade Center will be but the latest redesign of a prominent portion of Boston waterfront. These include the publicly accessible outdoor space at Pier 4 that opened this summer.
BPDA signs off on addition to what’s now a project with 446 apartments and a refurbished Huntington Theatre
A major Fenway project that includes a new home for the Huntington Theatre Company is getting two more residential floors.
The Boston Planning and Development Agency on July 11 approved the request from the developer—a group of investors operating as QMG Huntington Limited Partnership—to add the additional floors, which will mean up to 20 more apartments.
The tower component of the redevelopment, at 252-258 Huntington Avenue, is now expected to have 446 apartments total, with sizes ranging from studios to two-bedrooms.
The tower’s height, though, will not change. That is because the developer is reducing the floor-to-ceiling heights within the same 362-foot frame, starting at the third floor. That translates into an increase of 24,710 square feet, for 431,210 square feet total.
The BPDA originally approved the development in December 2017, about a year after QMG bought the Huntington Theatre Company’s building from Boston University for $25 million.
The recent tweak will not affect the floor-to-ceiling dimensions of the theater portion of the project, which also adds three more residential units designated as affordable in a Boston that sorely needs them.
What/where: A one-bedroom, one-bathroom loft condo at Cross and Tufts streets in East Somerville
Square footage: 785
The skinny: This capacious unit with a washer-dryer and an off-street parking space is near a future stop on the extended Green Line. What say you re: the price? Take a look around and then take your best guess.
The university proposed the 305,000-square-foot building at 645-665 Commonwealth Avenue in Kenmore Square in the fall of 2018. It’s set to host BU’s data sciences center, including the school’s mathematics, computer science, and statistics departments.
The building—which Toronto-based KPMB Architects is designing—will also be the tallest on BU’s campus at 305 feet and will replace a surface parking lot. A basement, a four-story podium, 13 floors on top of that, and then a top floor (like the basement) for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing apparatuses will comprise the tower.
“They asked us for something—they used the word ‘iconic,’” Marianne McKenna, a KPMB Architects founding partner, said through the school back in October.
Probably the biggest what-if now is the possibility of a commuter-rail stop right beside the casino-resort. Neither stops in Everett right now. The proposed station is in purple on the below slide, which was presented to investors.
Now comes talk of office development on the parcels just across Broadway from the casino-resort. The thinking apparently goes that companies priced out of the Boston market will instead look in Everett for offices.
Right now, there are several variables regarding these plans. One of the biggest is what would become of the MBTA’s bus maintenance facility next to Encore Boston Harbor and beside the theoretical Silver Line-commuter rail stop. That would likely have to change hands for other developments to advance. Stay tuned.
Critical Mass. this week includes two big projects in South Boston and a windfall for workforce housing
Welcome to Critical Mass., a weekly roundup of the most notable development news in the Boston area. This week’s roundup includes two big potential projects in Southie and a windfall for workforce housing.
The developers behind the would-be redevelopment of the 15.2-acre former site of the long-shuttered New Boston Generating Station (a.k.a. the South Boston Edison Power Plant) met with the Boston Civic Design Commission.
The proposal calls for demolishing an empty warehouse in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Industrial Park and replacing it with 900,000 square feet of office, research, retail, and restaurant space, along with parking and other supporting uses.
It’s a rare black eye for a town that normally scores high on such parkland analyses
Boston has one of the lowest amounts of green space per resident among major U.S. cities, according to a new report from Geotab, a California company specializing in vehicular fleet management.
The company analyzed the amount of green space in different cities, including undeveloped land and land accessible to the public. That latter included parks, community gardens, cemeteries, schoolyards, playgrounds, public seating areas, and public plazas.
It divided this space by the number of residents, and, based on that, declared which major U.S. cities were the “most livable” in terms of green space per resident.
How did Boston fare? Residents get 168 square feet of green space per person, one of the lowest of the cities surveyed. Only New York City (146 square feet) and Miami (166 square feet) fared worse. Atlanta led the pack with 1,023 square feet of green space per resident, followed by Dallas, Portland (Oregon), Washington, and Milwaukee.
The result is a rare black eye for Boston, which generally scores pretty well in analyses of green space available and proximity. A report that the Trust for Public Land released in May found that every Boston resident lived within a 10-minute walk—or roughly a half-mile—of a public park, for instance. The city was only the second to achieve that accessibility milestone in the Trust’s annual survey (San Francisco was the first).
Colorful affair once part of even grander Back Bay mansion
The 11-room, 5,930-square-foot Unit 3 at 257 Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay is on two floors of the old Cochrane Mansion that McKim Mead & White designed (think the Boston Public Library on Copley Square or Symphony Hall, among many other famous creations).
Because of that, the spread includes that 19th-century pile’s old entertaining rooms, which explains some of its sweep.
It’s otherwise a colorful affair, with bright walls and moldings. The unit includes three full baths and the potential for four bedrooms as well as an elliptical staircase and a library and a living room with bay windows. The tag covers two garaged parking spaces too.
How much is that tag? Given the location and the size, it’s predictably steep: $10.5 million through Marsh Properties.