News & Updates

BPDA board approves over $220 million in development at Nov. 1 meeting

Nov 02, 2016

On Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 4 p.m., a special Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) board meeting was held in the Kane Simonian Board Room on the ninth floor of City Hall. During this meeting, three development projects were approved. Upon completion these projects will generate 64 residential units, 19 affordable units, and 810 jobs in the city of Boston.

In addition to the approval of these three development projects, the BPDA board also awarded tentative designation status to Millennium Partners for the redevelopment of the former City of Boston parking facility located at 115 Federal Street, also known as 115 Winthrop Square in Boston’s Financial District. It is estimated that this project will yield nearly 3,000 construction jobs, offering an opportunity to partner with Suffolk Construction’s Trade Partnership Series to promote Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, Minority Business Enterprise and Women Business Enterprise participation in the construction process. Furthermore, it is expected that this project will eventually be home to more than 2,600 permanent employees. Millennium is committed to working with a diverse and local group of third-party service providers to help train Boston residents to acquire the skills needed to be a part of this work force. Other noteworthy elements of the project include:
  • Its approximately 12,750 square foot “Great Hall” concept, an area that, as proposed, will serve as an 18-hour per day cultural and commercial anchor.
  • Its ability to achieve LEED Platinum certification, from an environmental standpoint
In terms of next steps, the Winthrop Square project will be reviewed under Article 80 of the Boston Zoning Code, along with a continuation of the community participation process achieved to date. This process is also expected to include review by an Impact Advisory Group (IAG) and the Boston Civic Design Commission (BCDC).

An approval unrelated to development projects includes the board’s approval to hire Bonnie McGilpin as Director of Communications for the agency. In her current role, McGilpin is press secretary and official spokesperson for Mayor Martin J. Walsh, overseeing all press operations for the Mayor’s Office and City of Boston departments. Her past experience includes working on the Martha Coakley campaign and in the office of Governor Deval L. Patrick. She attended Northeastern University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a concentration in Public Policy and Administration. Her start date is November 21, 2016.
Below are summaries of the newly approved projects. The full board agenda and archived video stream can be found here.

Development plan for General Electric headquarters project approved; includes $50m in philanthropic commitments to Boston communities
Total Project Cost: $200,000,000
Total SF: 388,070
Construction Jobs: 282

The General Electric Company (GE) headquarters project will be located in the Fort Point neighborhood of the South Boston Waterfront. The project site is made up of two existing buildings at 5 and 6 Necco Court, consisting of approximately 388,070 gross square feet.

The project will require the rehabilitation of the existing buildings, including:
  • The connection of the buildings by a shared glass lobby;
  • The construction of a new, approximately 293,300 square foot, 12-story headquarters building that will be connected to the buildings by an overhead pedestrian bridge and GE Plaza;
  • A new pedestrian walkway open to the public that will run from Necco Street to the Fort Point Channel; and
  • The construction of public realm improvements, including approximately 61,490 square feet of outdoor public space, including a Harborwalk, green space, interpretive signage and amenities.
GE has embraced the following three guiding principles in designing the proposed project:
  1. Community Convener: creating a compelling street-level experience open to the public that supports work-life integration to draw a steady flow of employees, GE collaborators, building guests and the public to the project site;
  2. Performance Enabler: minimizing physical barriers and utilizing semi-permeable layers between spaces for greater program integration and visual connectivity between GE employees and the public; and
  3. Resiliency Pioneer: committing to exploring emerging sustainable strategies that address tomorrow’s energy challenges.
Other features of the project include:
  • Public Realm Improvements: A unique feature of the project will be its extensive indoor and outdoor public spaces. The indoor public spaces will include work lounges, “Brilliant Labs,” planned as an educational and collaborative space for use by Boston Public School groups as well as members of the public; a bistro and café; and a public museum. Approximately 75 percent of the ground floor area of the project will be open to the public. The project will also be a catalyst for the execution of the 100-Acres Plan and provide a benchmark for future waterfront and public realm development in the City of Boston by expanding the Harborwalk from 12 to 18 feet in width, and using context-appropriate materials to rehabilitate and expand the Harborwalk and the adjacent public open spaces.
  • Sustainability: As a digital industrial company, GE will bring its expertise and leadership in sustainability through partnerships, digital solutions, and new business models. Through its ecoimagination program, GE seeks to solve global challenges around energy, efficiency, Greenhouse Gas emissions and water. Predix, GE’s cloud-based platform for the industrial internet, provides a unique foundation upon which to increase energy and materials efficiencies and reduce emissions using the power of analytics. Predix applications will be applied throughout the Proposed Project. GE will also apply the new, more stringent version of the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system to the project. Other key features of the project that will make it more sustainable are the Solar Veil and the incorporation of vegetated roof areas to mitigate heat island effect, help stormwater runoff and extend the life of the roof materials. Additionally, in support of the City’s goal to not overbuild parking, and in recognition of the project site’s close proximity to local, commuter rail and bus service at nearby South Station, the project will include 30 below-grade parking spaces, and upto 150 bicycle spaces for GE employees, as well as additional public bicycle racks.
  • Resiliency: Since the project is located on the Fort Point Channel, GE is utilizing strategies to ensure preparation for the effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, and ensure that the company is a leader in providing resiliency solutions for the City. The elevations of the first floors of the project will be set to at least +19.5 feet, which would provide protection against a 500-year storm event in 2075. In addition, critical mechanical and life safety/standby emergency building systems will be placed above vulnerable elevations and the stormwater infrastructure will be designed to effectively manage inland flooding, including through the use of adaptive landscaping that will be resilient against flooding and saltwater intrusion.
Finally, the public benefits of this project are many:
  • As a Development Impact Project (DIP), this project will result in a total of approximately $2,402,503.80 in Housing Exaction payments to the Neighborhood Housing Trust, and approximately $481,076.90 to the Neighborhood Jobs Trust
  • As a result of GE’s move to Boston, approximately 4,000 new jobs will be created in the Greater Boston area over the next 3 years. Those jobs will include permanent GE employees and employees based at GE vendors, as well as temporary construction jobs.
  • In April 2016, GE announced $50 million in philanthropic commitments, to be donated over the next five years, to the Boston community. GE’s commitment includes $25 million to Boston Public Schools, $10 million to building out a diverse workforce population and $15 million to developing the next generation healthcare workforce and increasing training for specialty care.  

Cresset Development, LLC’s proposal to renovate existing Chinatown site moves forward
Total Project Cost: $14,000,000
Total SF: 43,393
Construction Jobs: 60

Located at 8 Harrison Avenue in Chinatown, PBX Residences will consist of an approximately 21,193 square foot parcel that is currently occupied by two masonry buildings: an eight-story building at the corner of Essex Street and Harrison Avenue and an attached three-story masonry building to the south. The eight-story building, currently known as the Verizon building, was constructed in 1919 as a New England Telephone and Telegraph central switching station and currently houses telecommunication equipment for Verizon.

Cresset Development, LLC has proposed to renovate the top three floors of the existing eight-story structure to create 46 residential rental units, including seven affordable units. As currently proposed, the 46 residential units will consist of 18 studio units, 20 one-bedroom units, and eight two-bedroom units. Cresset will also renovate the ground level of the buildings to create a new residential lobby entrance for future residents, including a mailroom, a trash and recycling center, a bicycle storage room, and two spaces for tenant storage.

In addition to increasing the city’s housing stock, this project will result in a number of public benefits for the Chinatown neighborhood and the City of Boston as whole, listed below:
  • New pedestrian activity along Harrison Avenue and Essex Street;
  • Pedestrian access improvements including new sidewalks in and around the project site;
  • Installation of Boston Police Department monitored surveillance camera(s) along the Harrison Avenue façade to provide real time video access to local law enforcement officials;
  • Installation of new lighting along the building perimeter to improve visibility and pedestrian safety; and
  • A commitment of up to $150,000 for the redesign and construction of Philips Square to be made available to the BPDA within six months of building permit issuance;

Board approves Garrison Trotter Phase II project, creating homeownership opportunities in Roxbury
Total Project Cost: $6,066,216
Total SF: 20,638
Construction Jobs: 15
The Garrison Trotter Phase II project is a collaborative effort between the BPDA and the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND). After nearly one year of comprehensive neighborhood planning with the Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association (GTNA), this project signifies a representative commitment by Mayor Martin Walsh, DND and the BPDA to leverage City-owned property to create much needed mixed-income homeownership housing.

Located in Roxbury, the sites will be developed as part of Mayor Walsh’s Neighborhood Homes Initiative (NHI), a product of Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030, the Walsh administration’s comprehensive housing plan. NHI uses City-owned land and funding as a resource to create affordable and mixed-income homeownership opportunities for a range of homebuyers. In turn, this project will feature 18 residential units, 12 of which will be designated as affordable.

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