City Licensing Board: For the first time in it's history, the City of Boston's Licensing Board is now being appointed by the Mayor of Boston, a change from decades of appointments still coming down from the Governor's Office. The Licensing Board regulates alcohol, food, hotels/inns, lodging, lodging houses, frats, billiards, bowling alleys and fortune tellers across the city. The Mayor was granted this authority as part of the measure handed down by the State Legislature granting the city the authority to offer more Liquor Licenses.
Zoning Board of Appeals: Also yesterday, the Commissioner of the City's Zoning Board of Appeals, Robert Shortsleeve, has stepped down after 14 years of service to the city. No word yet on a replacement.
Beacon Hill Zoning: No more banks, real estate offices or other professional offices in first floor space on Beacon Hill without the approval of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Those uses have gone from allowed to conditional uses meaning that any applicant proposing any such use will have to go through a community process and Zoning Board of Appeal Process to open such an establishment in that Zoning District. The measure was first proposed by Councilor Zakim after a neighborhood battle following the announcement that Capital One wanted to open one of its 360 Cafes on Charles Street.
Trinity Financial: Trinity is back for another go at Parcel 13 with a proposal that consists of 350 apartments and retail space. The project would consist of only 100 spaces and will certainly be a point of contention if this project gets to a community review. However, with the situation of this project at the center of a transportation hub, owning a car in this transit oriented development would not be a necessity as transportation options are abundant in the immediate area.
In The Meantime... Lets activate the space to show how vital it could be.
Whichever project is chosen, if any, development is still a long way off from becoming a reality. Many months of bid review, community involvement and municipal and state approvals will be necessary before this project is ever able to break ground. The bridge over the Pike serves as an access point for residents and visitors to access both the Back Bay and Fenway Neighborhoods and, on busy summer nights when the Red Sox are in town, this sidewalk becomes littered with sports fans heading to Fenway.
If you'd like to express your view on this or other surrounding air rights parcels, there is a public meeting for the BRA's air rights advisory committee for all surrounding parcels 12-15:
In a comment that's received little in the way of publicity, City Councilor Frank Baker has called for a hearing to discuss the possibility of locating public libraries within privately owned mixed use or commercial buildings across the city. Neighborhoods like Savin Hill and Chinatown are not currently serviced by a Boston Public Library Branch and a mixed use development in the neighborhood could house just such a branch.
Personally, I think the plan would serve multiple purposes and provide a far greater benefit to the neighborhood than if officials decided to use a vacant lot solely for a new library branch. The following are just some thoughts on how this model could benefit neighborhoods.
Looking forward to following the discussions on this as we look at more innovative ways that the city can spur development of new housing units.
The Walsh Administration hasn't wasted any time putting forth it's vision for the future growth of Boston. As the first major development plan to come out of City Hall under the Walsh Administration, Boston2030 describes in detail the goal of 53,000 new housing units in Boston proper by 2030.
The report discusses the administration's goals and means of achieving the stated goals through four main categories; 1) Affordable housing, 2) Middle Class, "Work-Force" housing, 3) Senior housing and 4) Student Housing.
The 53,000 new units would be an increase of 20% above the current housing stock in Boston and assumes a population of 709,000 residents. Below is a cursory overview of the 133 page report released last week by the Mayor's Office. The full report can be viewed here.
Boston's Population Shifts
Boston's population has ebbed and flowed greatly throughout the last century. In the 1950's the city had a population that peaked at over 800,000. In the decades that followed our nations interstate highway system was improved and urban sprawl became the new norm. The population dipped to a low of 550,000 as recently as the late 1990s (US Census Bureau numbers) and was only at 555,000 as recently as 1999. The City's population is currently continuing a rapid rate of growth and as recently as 2013, was estimated to be about 640,000.
This is an incredibly ambitious goal but thats the point. Boston is arguably seeing its single greatest and most rapid period of change and growth in it's history. In order to maintain Boston as an attractive place to live, to work and to play, we need to make the city more accessible to all people. We have some of the greatest minds in the world doing incredible things throughout Boston and we need to do everything possible to keep them here in Boston. Creating "innovation districts" in the Seaport are great but this doesn't solve the problem of where to house those working in the district. Boston's increasingly becoming a city of startups. If we hope to continue this trend we need to enable people to live in Boston at an affordable price and to eventually have some hope of realize the dream of owning their own home in the city.
This plan provides an excellent road map to achieving these housing goals. Going forward however, more will need to be done to deal with an increasing elderly population as well as finding more ways to incentivize affordable development that allows younger people to set down roots and eventually grow their businesses and raise families here. Ambitious ideas are the reason Boston is flourishing right now. Having an ambitious housing plan is a just and logical next step. I'm ready for an exciting 16 years of seeing it through!
Tease of an upcoming piece on East Boston. More to follow on this exciting neighborhood soon! Stay tuned.
Three sites, 250-acres and, if developed correctly, the chance to recreate three very different neighborhoods of the city. All three of these sites have been discussed for some time by state, city and neighborhood officials but only recently have become increasingly active and all moving aggressively towards development.
Beacon Yards- Allston- 60 Acres
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 effecting this project).
Municipal Harbor Planning Project- Downtown/ Waterfront- 100 Acres (much of which already developed)
Heading further east, to the Boston Waterfront, The Municipal Harbor Planning Project is an ongoing discussion on the future of Boston's Waterfront, an area that, until the removal of Boston's other "green monster," was a blighted area unvisited by residents and tourists alike along Boston's Waterfront. Today it sits up against a glistening gem of a project in the Rose Kennedy Greenway that has reclaimed open space for the cities residents and created enormous opportunity for Boston's Waterfront. While much of the attention in this area is on the nearly 20 year attempt by developer Don Chiofaro to develop the site of the current Boston Harbor Parking Garage, city and state officials are looking at how to revitalize the entire waterfront area.
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.
Recently the owners of the James Hook site have stated publicly their intentions to redevelop their site and are looking to present their plans for the property to the MHPC this fall.
Suffolk Downs Site- East Boston/ Revere- 160 Acres
The recent casino debate in Eastern Massachusetts pitted East Boston residents against eachother and Revere against Everett for the right to build Eastern Massachusetts only full casino. Everett won out (subject to a repeal vote in November) leaving Suffolk Downs at the end of it's nearly 100 year history announcing that it will be closing the race track at the end of the year. Now, 160 acres of "transit-oriented" land is going to become wide open and ripe for development. How it's used and where we go with it next are still open for initial discussions and debate but most agree that this parcel could have a tremendous effect on East Boston, Revere and other surrounding suburbs.
The traditional fears of overcrowding, traffic congestion and overdevelopment are, of course, at play here but the greater concern should be on how we can take such a massive parcel of open urban land and create a new neighborhood focused on the future of Boston. East Boston Native and leader of the Eastie 2020 movement, former Secretary of Transportation Jim Aloisi said it best in a recent Globe Special on Suffolk Downs Future;
It also offers a rare opportunity to create a vibrant multi-use neighborhood, knit the surrounding communities together, and generate much-needed jobs and upward mobility.
Boston is an incredibly innovative, young and vibrant city and has become a place of endless opportunity to "do what you love and love what you do." However, with the attractiveness of Boston has come higher real estate prices and an increasingly difficult environment for young Bostonians to put down roots. Boston is at the crux of a major change whether we like it or not. We need to plan these new developments to house the Bostonians of the future. To allow people the ability to afford to live in a welcoming, vibrant and exciting city. A place where everyone has the opportunity to succeed through hard work and perseverance and to continue to create companies and products that change not only Boston, but the entire world for the better.
BuildingBOS was created to be the partner and connection between developers and the cities and towns that make up Greater Boston. We work to ensure that each new development and each new property investment is done in a way that guarantees, not only the success of the individual property or business owner but also benefits the neighborhood and the region as a whole. After all, every project and every parcel of land does not exist in a bubble but works as part of a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding block, neighborhood, city and region to create the best possible quality of life for all residents and the best opportunity for it's residents to succeed in whatever they want to do.
Over the past few months I’ve been working with an exciting and diverse group of 20-34 year old Boston residents spanning the spectrum of professions, interests, neighborhoods and backgrounds. On Sunday, our work over the past 5 months comes to fruition in the form of #HUBisHome, a 3-hour event held at District Hall in Boston’s Seaport, to discuss all things housing in Boston.
We expect discussions to range from how to find an affordable rental in Boston (Yes, that is still somewhat possible), to steps to take to buy your first home. We also have some of the regions best policy makers and experts on housing, urban development and home design discussing current economic factors at play in the increasing housing costs in Boston as well as ideas for future housing in Boston.
Thanks to a great local startup, Jumpshell, we will allow guests the opportunity to share their favorite things about the neighborhoods in which they live, and have the opportunity to weigh in on changes they would like to see in their neighborhoods.
We are also lucky enough to be joined by former Boston City Councilor, former candidate for Mayor of Boston and current Real Estate Attorney with Prince Lobel, Mike Ross who will serve as master of ceremonies for the afternoon.
Below is the afternoons schedule of events. Hope to see all of my readers in attendance!
A project in New York City was recently completed using modular construction and aptly titled “The Stack.” It went from bare ground to enclosed structure in 19… yes NINETEEN days in New York City. The development project, a JV between Jeffrey Brown and Kimberly Frank was composed of 56 modular units with 28 apartments about approx. 5,000SF of retail on the ground floor. Sounds like this may (if building codes allow in other cities) be the new wave of multi-family mixed use development.
Check out the wild 2-minute long time-lapse-video showing ground to enclosure in only 19 days.
Regulation A, A+, D, SEC RULE 506(c)… Ben Miller shares his thoughts on navigating the pitfalls that currently exist for those looking to crowdfund their development projects.
Originally posted on crowdfundattny:
To improve the user experience, I am inviting guest bloggers. The first is Ben Miller, a Co-Founder of Fundrise, who explains how he and his brother Dan invented Crowdfunding through Regulation A.
Please let me know if you would like to post. I’m looking for content like Ben’s – interesting, informative, educational.
By: Ben Miller, Co-Founder of Fundrise.
My brother Dan and I were in the real estate business for a long time, developing commercial and residential projects in the Washington, D.C. area, before we thought about crowdfunding. We got some of our capital from the same place many real estate developers get their capital: from investment funds in New York or even outside of the country.
Most of them had little connection to the places we were building and often had never even heard of the neighborhood. On the other hand, our friends…
View original 614 more words
Turns out, this latest proposal is a $1Billion mega complex of two towers and a large indoor/ outdoor marketplace rivaling it’s neighbor across the street in Faneuil Hall. My first impression of this project is that with a new administration in city hall and plenty of public space, this project may actually have a good shot as becoming reality and heading to the BRA for approval in Fall 2014.
Check out the pictures of the latest development here.
According to an email received today from Chiofaro Co., it looks like Don Chiofaro and Ted Oatis are moving forward with their plans for a new development at theHarbor Garage Sitenext to the New England Aquarium. It sounds like we’ll hear some of the teams placemaking ideas for the new site as well as the teams latest thoughts on how to enliven the public realm around any new development on the property.
Dear Friends –
We are writing to let you know about an important upcoming meeting related to the Harbor Garage project. This Wednesday, June 25 at 3:00 pm, at Atlantic Wharf’s Fort Point Room, we will be making a presentation to the Municipal Harbor Planning Advisory Committee. As part of this presentation, we will be sharing the first concepts for our new vision for the Harbor Garage site. We are very excited about the ideas we’re going to share, and we think you will be, as well.
We hope you’ll be able to join us, and we’d invite you to reach out to colleagues, friends and others who have an interest in urban design, great public spaces, or the future of Boston generally. The Harbor Garage is an extremely important site for the future of our Greenway and our waterfront, and we’d love to see an audience that truly reflects not only the Boston of today, but the Boston of tomorrow. If you are inspired enough to offer a word or two in support on Wednesday, all the better!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
We hope to see you Wednesday!
Don & Ted
City Councilor Michelle Wu, Chair of the Boston City Council Special Committee on Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, has released her report on the recommended changes necessary to make the permitting and licensing process in Boston faster, and more predictable. The full report is attached here but some key recommendations include the following;
As if the massive Assembly Square transit oriented developmentproject and the green line extension through Somerville weren’t exciting enough, today it was announced that pedestrian and bike access connecting Somerville to Boston will be made even easier. MassDOT will incorporate a bike/ pedestrian path along the green line extension project that will also serve as utility access to and from the green line extension project. Once completed Somerville residents will have a direct bike/walk route to and from downtown Boston.
What makes this project even more exciting is that residents of Boston will now have access to the Minuteman Bikeway through a 48-mile continuous network of paths that will now include the Charles River pathways.
Haven’t been to The Fenway Neighborhood since last baseball season? Well… you may not recognize it when you show up to “America’s most beloved ballpark” for opening day on Friday. Major progress has been made on multiple major development projects in the neighborhood along with changes to the way you can get to the ballpark and new places to eat and drink before or after the game.
Traveling into the game from Metro West on theFramingham/Worcester Commuter Rail line? The new Yawkey Station, which opened just a few weeks ago, will let fans off only a few hundred feet from the ballpark, just behind Boston Beer Works.
Popular Mexican Restaurant La Verdad on Landsdowne Street closed in January after a long run in the space. Owner Ken Oringer (of Toro, Uni and Clio fame) is rumored to have “sold the space to a friend” to open a concept restaurant in time for Red Sox Opening day. Doesn’t look likely as the place still looks vacant and quiet with opening day less than a week away so we will have to wait and see what happens with this space.
Also during the winter, Game On underwent a massive overhaul including turning their basement into a Table Tennis bar called “Blazing Paddles.”
Also closing was Barrio Cantina, (formerly Happys) by chef Michael Schlow. No word yet on what is going back into this space but both prior attempts lasted less than a year in the space with far, far less than rave reviews.
However, a new Greek restaurant has opened to rave reviews on Peterborough Street’s restaurant row. Check out theGyro City website to learn more about the difference between a “gyro” and a “souvlaki,” or to plan your pregame lunch for Friday’s Red Sox opening day.
Van Ness and 1325 Boylston (Weiner Ventures project)
The area of Boylston Street that most people will remember as a large auto body shop and then small organic grocer is going to become Fenway’s largest development project yet.
Description: The project will encompass two towers connected by a large above ground outdoor courtyard. The retail component is anchored by Boston’s first full-sized Target department store (something Mayor Mennino fought against for years) on the second and third floors, accessible from multiple ground floor locations. Ground floor also features specialty retail shops and restaurants.
The old McDonalds turned game day parking will soon be the latest luxury residential project of the part owners of the Boston Celtics, The Abbey Group.
Courtesy: The Abbey GroupProject Stats:
Old Howard Johnsons
Gone is the half-century long home of the Howard Johnson’s Hotel and, after a massive $18.8 mil renovation, in comes The Verb Hotel.
The “Rock and Roll” themed hotel is slated to open in the Summer of 2014 with reservations being taken as early as this week. This is certainly a welcome change by many and excited to see how this stretch of Boylston is revitalized by an influx of new visitors to the hotel.
While work hasn’t yet started on the “Blue Monster,” the partnership of Samuels and Associates and Weiner Ventures will again be bringing a large residential tower to the neighborhood with the tallest building yet in The Fenway, a 22-story residential building.
Landmark Center Changes
Fenway Center (THE fenway redevelopment project)
The long stalled project planned for years by developer John Rosenthal as the next great Mass Pike air rights project has hit yet another snag. An appeal has been made for tax breaks by Rosenthal that, at this point, have not been granted. Hopefully ground can break towards the end of this year on the last major piece of The Fenway’s transition and the connector between Kenmore Square and The Fenway.
An example of mid-rise construction along a 20 metre wide right-of-way. Image from the Avenues & Mid-Rise Buildings Study. Credit: BMI (Brook McIlroy Planning & Urban Design).Robert Friedman, Director of Urban Design for one of the more forward thinking (when it comes to city planning, not it’s mayor of course) urban centers in North America, Toronto, Ontario, has addressed the growing trend of developers looking to build mid level high rises with mixed-uses to reinvent older neighborhoods away from city centers.
This is not wishful thinking. We’re building Avenues of mid-rises, which bode very well, not just for Toronto, but also for any city trying to increase its density without losing its human scale.
Friedman admits to the commonly recognized idea that building up is really the only way city’s will be able to keep up with the demand for homes in North America’s urban centers. Many residents in these neighborhoods push back against this type of development for fear of losing the smaller neighborhood feel when, in actuality, there are methods that can be used to increase residential/ commercial density, increase opportunity for retail development and still maintain a semblance of small “neighborhood” feel to the block.
Some keys to maintaining the smaller, open, neighborhood feel with larger mixed-use developments is to require large glass panneling on the ground floor retail spaces and step backs as you increase in height, making the building feel less monolithic to both neighbors and passersby. Much of this could be transferred to current development trends in many developing neighborhoods in Boston today. To read more of Robert’s ideas, find his article, “Mid-Rise: Density at a Human Scale” on this weeks Planetizen.
Starting a dialogue on the future of urban living in Boston and beyond.