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It's a Clash of the Titans for Parcel 25 Near South Station

Previously, we brought you the story of the modified approach being taken by the BRA and MassDOT to realize the massive South Bay mega-development , a new district on 10 acres of downtown Boston reclaimed by the Big Dig. Now we will take a closer look at the competing development proposals for Parcel 25, the first parcel offered by MassDOT under the piecemeal approach to realizing the district.

Parcel 25 is 1.66 acres of land and highway air rights located within walking distance of South Station, between Kneeland Street, Albany Street, the South Station Connector and Lincoln Street extension. MassDOT issued a request for proposals last December and received two responses, each from a development dream team of politically savvy Boston insiders and nationally known development firms, promising a popcorn-worthy clash of the titans for designation as the developer.

The development team of Archstone New Development Holdings and Berkeley Investments has proposed a 24-story tower with 438 housing units, 3,378 square feet of retail space and 227 parking spaces. Renderings show a slab-shaped tower rising 300 feet, with a narrow and dramatic building edge along Kneeland Street and the highway approach to downtown Boston, promising to become a recognizable landmark on the city skyline. The program also includes a "Greenway Terminus Plaza" at the corner of Kneeland and Albany streets, connecting to and completing the linear park system created by the Big Dig.

Archstone is one of the largest investors, managers, and developers of housing in the nation, and Berkeley is a Boston-based developer best-known for transforming a large swath of Boston's Fort Point neighborhood from industrial grit to urban swank.

The second proposal comes from a team of Trinity Financial and New Boston Fund, proposing a 21-story tower rising 235 feet, with 379 units and more than 20,000 square feet of retail space. The proposal would enliven the Southern Terminus of the Greenway with retail space "designed to encourage pedestrian flow south on Surface Road between Parcels 24 and 25, extending the Greenway south along east face of Parcel 25 at structural deck over highway lanes. The design is aimed at attracting retail as appropriate and will offer outdoor patio seating areas in an effort to enliven street activity."

Trinity and New Boston are both veteran developers of state property. Trinity Financial recently developed a pair of notable transit-oriented residential projects in Boston in collaboration with the MBTA. The Avenir, a 10-story residential building was completed in 2009, directly adjacent to North Station on air rights above the MBTA Green and Orange line transit tunnels. The Carruth, a six-story residential building, was built on MBTA property adjacent to Ashmont Station in coordination with its renovation in 2006. Trinity is also the designated developer of the MBTA/MassDOT Parcel 2abc in the Bulfinch Triangle neighborhood of Boston, adjacent to the Avenir.

New Boston Fund, a Boston-based private equity real estate investment firm founded by the Rappaport family real estate dynasty, has expanded beyond the Greater Boston real estate market to become national player. New Boston is responsible for a number of transformative projects in inner-city Boston neighborhoods including Crosstown Center, an 885,000-square-foot, mixed-use project at the intersection of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Mass. Ave., and One Brigham Circle, the 200,000-square-foot office and retail project at the sweet spot between Mission Hill and Longwood Medical Area. Perhaps most notably, New Boston Fund is the designated developer for MassDOT Parcel 24, located across Albany Street from Parcel 25, where they will break ground this year on a residential tower with 345 residential units, retail space, and a public park.

Which of these heavyweight development team will prevail in the competition to develop Parcel 25? Stay tuned. — A. Contributor

· Saving the South Bay Mega-Development in Downtown Boston [Curbed Boston]
· Our Construction Watch archive [Curbed Boston]