News & Updates

BRA board approvals pave the way for $732.5 million in new projects at first meeting of 2016

Jan 15, 2016

Residential and office towers will reshape downtown skyline, as first phase of Government Center Garage redevelopment moves ahead
The Board of Directors for the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) met last night for the first time this year, approving six development projects that represent a combined investment of $732.5 million in Boston’s economy. The most significant approvals set the stage for striking new residential and office towers downtown, as part of the first phase of the Government Center Garage redevelopment project, and a new 697-bed dormitory on the campus of Emmanuel College in Fenway.
The board also approved residential projects in West Roxbury, an expansion of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Dorchester, and an office addition to the Stillings Street Garage in Fort Point.
The approved projects are expected to create a total of 582 units of new housing, including 74 affordable units, once complete. An estimated 1,650 construction jobs will be created as a result of the two million square feet of new development.
One project under consideration, the proposed Garden Garage redevelopment, was the topic of heated debate for the first several hours of last night’s meeting. The project, different iterations of which had been under review by the BRA for multiple years, received a public hearing before the board that lasted over three hours, as sixty community members provided testimony. After a lengthy period of deliberation, the board ultimately decided to table the matter for a vote at a future meeting.
Director Brian Golden explained, “Our Board of Directors heard three hours of public testimony about the Garden Garage project at last night’s meeting. We appreciate that so many community members came out on a cold evening to express their opinion about this project, which clearly has passionate voices on both sides. Given the significant objections that were presented by residents of the West End, the board deferred a vote on the proposal. It is our hope that substantive communication occurs in the near term between the developer and residents to address ongoing concerns."
Below is a summary of the new development projects that were approved last night.

Residential and office components of massive Government Center Garage redevelopment set to move forward

Total Project Cost: $209,000,000 for residential tower; $327,000,000 for office tower
Total SF: 547,940 square feet for residential tower; 1,012,000 square feet for office tower
Construction Jobs: 524 for residential tower; 736 for office tower
The hulking concrete garage that spans over Congress Street near busy Haymarket Station will soon take on new life, as the first two phases of a nearly three million square foot redevelopment plan were approved last night. Government Center Garage, which was completed in 1972 as part of an urban renewal plan, will undergo a wholesale transformation over the next several years. The two buildings set to move forward include a 486-unit, 480-foot tall residential building designed by CBT Architects and a one million square foot, 528-foot tall office building designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. In accordance with Boston’s Inclusionary Development Policy, 64 units in the residential building will be designated as affordable.
The approved residential and office buildings, the first of six new buildings planned for the site’s redevelopment, will be constructed around and above a portion of the existing garage. The residential tower will include approximately 1,300 square feet of ground floor retail on New Sudbury Street. A mixture of glass and metal panels in varying shades of gray will enhance the building’s massing, giving the tower a contemporary façade. Pelli Clarke Pelli, meanwhile, designed a slender office tower with two flowing curved edges that help to soften the building’s height and create a sense of openness with the surrounding neighborhood. The developer, HYM Investment Group, hopes to attract tenants in the creative, technology, lifestyle, and health care sectors with a Class A building that will also contain 10,800 square feet of retail space.
By the time the office tower is complete, the portion of the garage that extends over Congress Street will be demolished to introduce daylight to an area that is currently shaded year-round. Together, the new buildings will dramatically reshape the downtown skyline.
All told, the eventual six-building development will include 812 housing units, nearly 200 hotel rooms, over a million square feet of office space, and 82,500 square feet of retail. Approximately 1,100 of the existing 2,300 parking spaces will be retained.

Emmanuel College will build new residence hall to house more students on campus

Total Project Cost: $125,000,000
Total SF: 267,000
Construction Jobs: 226
Emmanuel College received approval to construct New Julie Hall, a dormitory project that was envisioned in the school’s 2012 Institutional Master Plan and will replace the existing 220-bed Julie Hall. Once complete, the 19-story building will contain a total of 691 beds, a café serving prepared foods, and ground floor space for a variety of student life and academic uses. Function space will be available on the top floor. There will also be 102 covered bicycle spaces and 15 underground parking spaces.
With 29 fewer beds and approximately 7,550 less square feet, the project is slightly smaller than what was conceived in Emmanuel’s Institutional Master Plan. And while it is taller in height, it will occupy a smaller footprint. Emmanuel currently houses 73 percent of its students on campus, and New Julie Hall is expected to boost that capacity to 84 percent of students. A portion of the building will be rented to a third party institutional tenant.
The building was designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects.

Old IHOP site on VFW Parkway will be redeveloped with 80 apartments

Total Project Cost: $23,000,000
Total SF: 104,588
Construction Jobs: 79
A long vacant site off of VFW Parkway in West Roxbury that was most recently an International House of Pancakes will be revitalized with dozens of new apartment homes. SOVAD LLC, a development entity run by Peter V. Davos and his family, received approval to develop an 80-unit multi-family residential complex at 1235 VFW Parkway with community meeting rooms, tenant storage areas, outdoor terraces, and vehicle and bicycle parking. Ten of the units will be designated as affordable in keeping with the city’s Inclusionary Development Policy.
Kahlsa Design worked with the developer and the community to create “brother and sister” buildings that take architectural cues from the scale of the surrounding neighborhood. The four-story building is designed to appear as two distinct buildings with a transparent bridge connection for residents. Trees, widened sidewalks, and other streetscape amenities will improve the experience for pedestrians in the neighborhood. The project will have 131 parking spaces, with 73 in an underground garage and 58 surface parking spots.
To help reduce traffic on VFW Parkway, the developer will provide shuttle service on weekday mornings and evenings to local MBTA Commuter Rail stops.

60-room addition approved for Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Dorchester

Total Project Cost: $12,000,000
Total SF: 37,325
Construction Jobs: 29
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites near Dorchester’s South Bay shopping center will expand with a five-story addition that will increase the number of guestrooms from 114 to 174. The approved expansion will more than double the hotel’s meeting space to a total of nearly 3,700 square feet, and over 2,700 square feet of additional breakfast and lounge space will be constructed. An added benefit of the expansion is the 15 to 20 new hotel jobs created by the project.
The developer plans to begin construction this year.

Housing slated for former West Roxbury Motors dealership and service station

Total Project Cost: $6,500,000
Total SF: 23,331
Construction Jobs: 17
The former West Roxbury Motors car dealership and service station will be demolished to make way for a 16-unit housing development at 1789 Centre Street. The project will include 12 two-bedroom flats and four two-bedroom duplexes, with on-site parking for 29 vehicles. A modest 1,000 square foot ground floor retail space will help to further reactivate the now vacant site in West Roxbury’s commercial district.
Residents of the new building will be well situated to take advantage of the area’s access to public transit, which includes three bus routes and two nearby commuter rail stations that connect to downtown Boston.

Stillings Street Garage to be expanded with two floors of office space and ground floor retail

Total Project Cost: $30,000,000
Total SF: 59,000
Construction Jobs: 42
Berkley Investments, owners of the Stillings Street Garage at 22 Boston Wharf Road, will construct a two-story addition to the existing garage for a total of 56,000 square feet of new office space. Ground floor space that is currently used for a management office and parking will be converted to 3,000 square feet of retail. The project, which the developer expects to get underway by summer 2016 should be completed in approximately one year.
TRO Jung|Brannen served as architect. Berkley Investments has committed $25,000 towards activating the wall of the garage that faces Q Park with a public art installation. Local neighborhood groups will work collaboratively with the garage owner and the owner of the park to develop the art project.

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