Updates On Projects In The Pipeline by Joseph Itri

 In News, Newsletter: Summer '19

Fenway Center

Developers Meredith Management, Gerding Edlen, and TH Real Estate officially broke ground in late January 2018 on the five-building, 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center at the intersection of Brookline and Commonwealth Avenues.

The groundbreaking brought to a close what seemed like never-ending planning and readjustments for one of Boston’s most anticipated projects. Lead developer John Rosenthal of Meredith had been trying to build at the 4.5- acre site for nearly 20 years.

The infrastructural challenges inherent in the project, which includes building over the Mass. Pike, as well as financial challenges, had resulted in repeated delays.

Altogether, it’s expected to have around 500 housing units, 170,000 square feet of offices, 90,000 square feet of retail, 1,290 parking spaces, community space, a daycare center, bicycle storage, and a bike-share station. The first phase includes two apartment buildings with 313 units total.

Back Bay/South End Gateway

Developer Boston Properties has the necessary approvals to build up to 1.26 million square feet of housing, offices, and retail over and around Back Bay Station – and to redevelop the garage at 100 Clarendon Street in the process.

One of the project’s three new towers is expected to reach 364 feet.

Boston Properties reached a deal with opponents concerned about the project’s shadows just before the Boston Planning & Development Agency voted to approve it in November in 2017. The developer will pay $3 million to the Old South Church to mitigate the impact and an additional $3 million to an affordable housing fund that Boston runs.

The project, which could get underway in 2019, is envisioned as a transformative gateway connecting Back Bay and the South End, and will include improvements to Back Bay Station.

Exchange South End

The Boston Planning & Development Agency in mid-August signed off on plans to redevelop the former site of the Boston Flower Exchange in the South End into a 1.6 million-squarefoot, four-building technology and life sciences hub.

Abbey Group, the developer that acquired the parcel in 2016, hopes to start construction on the $1 billion complex’s first phase in the spring of 2019.

The developer also plans to talk to transportation officials about mitigating the 5.6-acre development’s impact on traffic, including through a new ramp for the Southeast Expressway. It has also committed to improving bus access to the area.

Ultimately, what’s been dubbed Exchange South End is due to become one of the biggest new projects in the neighborhood in decades.

Bulfinch Crossing

A financing deal announced last year between National Real Estate Advisors LLC, the owner of Bulfinch Crossing, and Carr Properties, a Washington, D.C.-based firm, meant a key piece of the mega-project would advance.

Carr Properties took a 50 percent stake in One Congress, the 528 foot, 1 million -square-foot office tower that is set to be among the key features of Bulfinch Crossing. The project means saying goodbye to half of the Government Center Garage. Some of it has disappeared already amid the construction of an apartment and condo tower on New Sudbury Street.

Bulfinch Crossing in total is supposed to produce 812 residential units, 196 hotel rooms, 1.15 million-square feet of office space, and 85,000 square feet of retail. The part-conversion, part-demolition of the garage will produce six buildings with 2.9 million square feet total.

The project is one example of Boston’s pivot away from conventional parking garages, especially ones in areas ripe for development.

HYM Investment Group, Bulfinch Crossing’s developer, expects to start construction on One Congress in 2019, and to open it in 2022.

Winthrop Square Tower

Developer Millennium Partners announced in late September 2018 that it had closed on a deal to purchase the site of the Winthrop Square Garage, which removed the final hurdle to the construction of a 691-foot, 1.6 million-square-foot condo and office tower in its place.

Buying the site of the garage, which Millennium has already demolished, will cost about $163 million. The city is the seller of the property, and the closing meant an upfront payment of $102 million.

The tower – designed by Handel Architects of New York – is destined to be one of the 10 tallest in Boston. Scheduled to be finished in 2022, plans, bids, and design tweaks for the tower have been in the works for years.

South Station Tower

It’s one of the longest-running questions in Boston real estate: Will a tower go up atop South Station?

Hines, a Houston-based development and investment firm, has been trying to build a major complex above New England’s busiest train and bus hub now for several years. Negotiations surrounding the tower have dragged on because of the size of the project and the number of stakeholders in the project, which include the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through the MBTA, Amtrak, the City of Boston, and the developer.

In October 2018, the MBTA granted Hines another six months to negotiate for what would be a 678-foot spire out of the center of South Station. Hines hopes to break ground this fall.

Its current plans call for an 862,000-square-foot addition that would erupt out of the station at the ninth of 51 floors and include 641,000 square feet of office space, 166 condos, and 6,000 square feet of retail as well as parking for 895 cars.