This past Saturday marked the Beyond Walls Block party in Lynn, an event that came at the end of a week filled with 20 artists from area locals to Montreal, Australia, and beyond painting masterpieces on the neglected sides of buildings across the Central Square area of the city. During the week, residents and visitors alike toured the downtown to watch these artists from around the world create their masterpieces. I spent Friday afternoon walking around downtown Lynn in awe of not only the artwork, but the energy and excitement this event brought that was painted not only on the walls but on every onlookers face as they watched the magic happen. “This is just amazing” was the awed reaction a gentleman had as we stood together watching Victor “Marka” Quinonez paint his 6-year old daughter on the side of a 50-foot high canvas. The man told me he came to Lynn from the Philippines decades earlier, and when he told some local family where he was living their response was less than positive. He said he had been out every day during the mural festival checking out the progress and couldn’t wait to show off the new artwork to his family the next time they visit.
In 2012, Gerding Edlen purchased a 55,000sf parcel on the 93 side of the same block between Harrison and Albany for $12.7 Million to develop what is now the Troy. This parcel was initially purchased for $231/sf or nearly 1/3 the cost that Related may be paying for it's site on the other side of the block.
*Of course this is a hypothetical factoring in an educated guess as to what the Quinzanni's site may sell for based on a comparison between sale price and assessed value of the neighboring Ho Kong site and in no way reflects the actual investment of Related.
"Based on the trends in Foot Traffic Ahead, there is the potential for market demand for tens of millions more square feet of walkable urban development--and hundreds of new WalkUPs--in America’s cities. Meeting that demand is an opportunity to create huge value for these communities.” -Locus Developers 2015 report titled Foot Traffic Ahead
A group of ten Northeastern graduate students working with local architect Tim Love have mocked up an extremely detailed model for what is one of many suggestions on how to use the 60 acre former rail yard in Allston.
Starting geographically from West to East, the first project is the Beacon Yards project. This 60 acre site was formerly owned by the CSX Railroad corporation and, only recently, was sold to Harvard University in hopes of spurring future neighborhood development (whether that was the best move for the neighborhood remains to be seen but based on Harvard's work with Barry's Corner we can only hope they continue to build for the benefit of the surrounding neighborhood and not another isolated HBS campus). Currently, as the site stands, it is split down the middle by the Allston/ Brighton tolls of the Massachusetts Turnpike. To kill two birds with one stone, MassDOT hopes to straighten out this section of the Pike, alleviating traffic in a heavily traveled section of the roadway while also opening up the site to it's full development potential.
The plan is to build a mix of retail, office and residential to help create a new neighborhood in a section of Allston long devoid of much life. Boston Society of Architects has created an all volunteer group of local designers and community members to help push their visions of what the site could look like. One such design, and my current favorite, envisions creating an "Allston Esplanade" which would require moving Storrow Drive away from the water and creating 3-acres of open space, parkland, bike lanes and running paths along the water in a section of the Charles that desperately needs it. The project also brings back into play the long discussed "West Station" creating a public transit option directly to downtown and Kendall Square in Cambridge (Major transportation announcement coming from Governor Deval Patrick tomorrow directly affecting this project).
Walking through Faneuil Hall on a recent Fall afternoon I paused after noticing something I hadn't seen throughout all of the Summer months... there was no one around... Now, this was the first cold day of the year and it was a Tuesday afternoon so we can chalk some of this fact up to the weather and time of the week but this seems to be an increasingly problematic issue with Faneuil Hall. Locals don't go here and the tourism season dies down in the winter leaving a few empty chain restaurants, stores, a tourist trap version of the Cheers Bar and the bars you loved to go to when you were 21 (or in many cases younger) and fresh out of college.
In 2011 The Ashkenazy Development Group out of New York City, a company known for buying and repurposing large historic destinations, purchased the rights to lease the space from the City of Boston and has since made minor cosmetic changes to the property while plotting the revitalization of the space to try and bring back the locals.
The site, which hasn't seen any major restoration project since the 1970's, will soon undergo a massive restoration project the likes of which Faneuil Hall has never seen. We knew some of these plans include tearing up the existing Quincy Market space to install larger restaurants with seating and a center bar to better utilize the existing structure of the historic building but it looks like plans also expand to the outdoor space surround Quincy Market.
The massive redevelopment project coming to the hulking Government Center Garage will be done in phases with the first phase breaking ground in 2015. The plan is to create a massive office, residential and retail complex that will once again connect the exploding North Station area with the development wave in Downtown.
The project is a joint endeavor of HYM Investments and Bulfinch Congress Holdings, the firm who first bought the property in 2010. Visit the project website to learn more.
Comprised of four buildings that made up the former world headquarters of Fidelity Investments, Congress Square is the latest venture by Related Beal and an attempt at revitalizing a section of Downtown Boston that's lacked much in the way of street level activation for years. The plan is to turn the large alley that runs within the block into a large pedestrian way (think European Street with cafe's with outdoor seating and shopping all along the strip). The plan is to also build out condos and office space on the floors above the newly revitalized street.
Visit the Project Website for More
One of the last remaining development parcels in Boston's Financial District, the Winthrop Square Garage, could be looking at a new 740 ft high tower filled with condos, office space and retail revitalizing a strip of Federal Street that's long sat in decrepit shape with the only real retail and street activation consisting of a daily USPS truck providing mail services.
The project is being proposed by Boston real estate developer, sports franchise owner and entrepreneur Steve Belkin.
Harbor Garage Project: The Chiofaro Company has proposed two towers, one containing nearly 900,000sf of offices, the other containing 120 condo units and a luxury hotel operator. Both towers will be connected by a large scale ground level retail/ entertainment complex which has been a major focus of public input on the project and continues to be a focal point of debate. Because this project is within 300' of a public water way it falls within State Department of Environmental Protection review and is still winding it's way through Chapter 91 review while awaiting Boston Redevelopment Authority Article 80 review. For more information on this project please visit the project website.
James Hook Lobster Co. Site: Developers of the long underutilized site have proposed a 22-story structure on the existing lot with major improvements to the harborfront section of the existing site. Developers also plan to maintain the James Hook Lobster Restaurant at the site with a new 9,000sf restaurant anchoring the lowest level of the building.
The City is on the right track with events like the Donna Summer Roller Skate Party in the summer Boston Calling now happening twice a year and signed up for more shows over the next few years. Plans for Winter's Landing consisting of an ice rink and restaurant fell through at the last minute but are still in the plans for next season. Above all else, the plaza needs to be more inviting for residents, visitors and guests during all seasons and not longer exist as the concrete and brick wasteland that it currently is.
Starting a dialogue on the future of urban living in Boston and beyond.
I invite everyone to continue the discussion in the comments below each post.