Boston is famously in the midst of a major building boom. Some developments are especially consequential given their sizes and locations. Here are 11 to watch in 2019.Read More
Boston developments to watch in 2019: 11 key ones, mapped
It’s shaping up to be a busy 12 months in mega-projects
1. Fenway Center
Developers Meredith Management, Gerding Edlen, and TH Real Estate officially broke ground in late January 2018 on the five-building, 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center where Brookline and Commonwealth avenues meet.
The groundbreaking capped veritable eons of planning and readjustments for what’s become one of Boston’s most anticipated projects. Lead developer John Rosenthal of Meredith had been trying to build at the 4.5-acre site for nearly 20 years.
The infrastructural alchemy inherent in the project, which includes building over the Mass. Pike, as well as financing challenges had delayed it interminably.
All totaled, it’s expected to have around 500 housing units, 170,000 square feet of offices, 90,000 square feet of retail, 1,290 parking spaces, community space, a daycare center, bicycle storage, and a bike-share station. The first phase includes two apartment buildings with 313 units total.
2. Back Bay/South End Gateway
Boston, MA 02116
Developer Boston Properties has the necessary approvals to build up to 1.26 million square feet of housing, offices, and retail over and around Back Bay Station (and to redevelop the garage at 100 Clarendon Street in the process).
One of the project’s three new towers is expected to reach 364 feet.
Interestingly, Boston Properties reached a deal with opponents concerned about the project’s shadows just before the Boston Planning & Development Agency voted to approve it in November in 2017. The developer will pay $3 million to opponents such as the Old South Church to mitigate the impact and a further $3 million to an affordable housing fund that Boston runs.
The project, which could get underway in 2019, is envisioned as a kind of transformative gateway connecting Back Bay and the South End; and includes improvements to Back Bay Station itself.
3. Exchange South End
Boston, MA 02118
The Boston Planning & Development Agency in mid-August signed off on plans to redevelop the former site of the Boston Flower Exchange in the South End into a 1.6 million-square-foot, four-building technology and life sciences hub.
Abbey Group, the developer that acquired the parcel in 2016, hopes to start construction on the $1 billion complex’s first phase in the spring of 2019.
The developer also plans to talk to transportation officials about mitigating the 5.6-acre development’s impact on traffic, including through a new ramp for the Southeast Expressway. It has also committed to improving bus access to the area, per the Globe’s Tim Logan.
In the end, what’s been dubbed Exchange South End is due to become one of the biggest new projects in the neighborhood in decades.
4. Hub on Causeway
Boston, MA 02114
Developers Boston Properties and Delaware North officially broke ground in January 2016 on the humongous project at the old Boston Garden site. It continues to unfold. The latest? The developers announced the addition of a 2,000-seat performance venue to the project in November 2018.
Ultimately, what’s dubbed the Hub on Causeway will mean more than 1.5 million square feet of shops, restaurants, offices, hotel rooms, and residences, as well as an expansion of nearby TD Garden and transit improvements to North Station.
Construction on Phase I wrapped in 2018, and includes a new entrance to TD Garden and North Station; 210,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space; and 175,000 square feet of what the developers are calling “creative office space.” (The last two bits are expected to open in late 2019—the photo here is of construction in March 2018.)
Phase II will include a 440-unit, 38-floor residential tower and a 260-key, 10-floor micro-hotel; and Phase III is an office tower with a proposed height of 495 feet.
5. Bulfinch Crossing
Boston, MA 02114
A financing deal announced in late September 2018 between National Real Estate Advisors LLC, the owner of the multi-building Bulfinch Crossing project due to supplant the Government Center Garage, and a Washington, D.C.-based firm meant a key piece of the mega-project could advance.
Carr Properties, that D.C. firm, took a 50 percent stake in One Congress, the 528-foot, 1 million-square-foot office tower that is set to be among the key features of Bulfinch Crossing. It will own that one part of the project with National Real Estate. And that stake is apparently enough for the tower to move forward—and that means bye-bye to half of the Government Center Garage.
Some of it has disappeared already amid the construction of an apartment and condo tower on New Sudbury Street. Bulfinch Crossing in total is supposed to produce 812 residential units, 196 hotel rooms, 1.15 million square feet of office space, and 85,000 square feet of retail.
The conversion-slash-demolition of the garage will produce six buildings with 2.9 million square feet total. And it’s but one example of Boston’s pivot away from conventional parking garages, especially ones in areas ripe for development.
HYM Investment Group, Bulfinch Crossing’s developer, expects to start construction on One Congress in 2019, and to open it in 2022.
6. Bunker Hill housing development
Charlestown, MA 02129
Long-running plans to revamp and expand the 13-block Bunker Hill public housing complex in Charlestown appeared to take a major step forward with the late October announcement of a new member of the development team.
Recall that plans have been percolating for three years that would see the 1,100 existing apartments rebuilt and some 2,100 market-rate, workforce, and affordable units added. Debate over just how many market-rate apartments (and condos) should be added has held up the plans.
Now the addition of Leggat McCall to the development team, which includes lead developer Corcoran Jennison, has raised optimism that the project—formerly known as One Charlestown, with an earlier version of the plan rendered here—might finally advance.
The development team and the Boston Housing Authority are working toward refiling new plans for a redevelopment sometime in early 2019.
The looming plans apparently include remaking those 1,100 existing apartments and adding others—though not as many as before. It currently looks like some 2,700 units total will end up in the Bunker Hill complex footprint, with some market-rate.
Work would start in 2021, and be done in up to eight phases to minimize disruptions to current residents. Financing still needs to be worked out—fewer market-rate units means less private money for the project—and other issues might arise between now and any start of construction.
7. Winthrop Square tower
Boston, MA 02110
Developer Millennium Partners announced in late September 2018 that it had closed on a deal to purchase the site of the Winthrop Square Garage, which removed the final hurdle to the construction of a 691-foot, 1.6 million-square-foot condo and office tower in its place.
The cost of buying the site of the garage, which Millennium has already demolished, will run about $163 million. The city is the seller, and the closing meant an upfront payment of $102 million.
The tower—designed by Handel Architects out of New York and destined to be one of the 10 tallest in Boston—is scheduled to be finished in 2022. Plans for it have been in the works for years, with bids, design tweaks, and the like.
8. South Station tower
Boston, MA 02110
It’s one of the longer-running question marks in Boston real estate: Will a tower go up atop South Station?
Recall that Hines, a Houston-based development and investment firm, has been trying to build a major complex atop New England’s busiest train and bus hub now for several years. Because of the number of stakeholders in the project—the MBTA (a.k.a. the state), Amtrak, the City of Boston, the developer itself—as well as the scope, negotiations over the tower have dragged on and on.
In October 2018, the MBTA granted Hines another six months to negotiate for what would be a 678-foot spire out of the center of South Station. By April 30, 2019, Hines hopes to have the requisite agreements in place to advance the project.
Its current plans call for an 862,000-square-foot addition that would erupt out of the station at the ninth of 51 floors and include 641,000 square feet of office space, 166 condos, and 6,000 square feet of retail as well as parking for 895 cars.
9. Omni Boston Seaport Hotel
Boston, MA 02210
What will be the fourth-largest hotel in Boston got officially underway in late May 2018 with a groundbreaking that drew VIPs such as Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh.
The $550 million Omni Boston Seaport Hotel will plant 1,055 rooms on Summer Street across from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in the Seaport District. It is the biggest among a slew of new hotels planned, under way, or recently opened in the Boston area.
The project goes back to 2017, when the Massachusetts Port Authority designated a development team that includes Omni Hotels & Resorts to build on a state-owned parcel in order to boost the room count in an area still underserved hospitality-wise—despite the convention center being right there.
The 21-story complex will include 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space of its own, including the largest hotel ballroom in the Seaport District. Interestingly, too, six local nonprofits will share in the hotel’s profits; and the developers pointed out in the spring of 2018 that the Omni inn will create between 700 and 1,000 permanent jobs.
There is one potential snag for the whole affair, which is supposed to be finished in 2021: Money management giant Fidelity Investments has sued the developers over the name. Fidelity’s own Seaport Hotel opened in the neighborhood 20 years ago.
10. Suffolk Downs
Developer HYM Investment Group plans to move ahead with the first phase of the redevelopment of the old Suffolk Downs racetrack on the East Boston-Revere line—never mind Amazon.
Recall that the 161-acre site was seen as the ideal place for Amazon’s second headquarters should the e-commerce behemoth pick Boston—a fact that apparently spurred planning at the site. The e-commerce behemoth did not pick Boston.
But Suffolk Downs’ redevelopment is moving ahead regardless, something we already knew was a possibility but that came into sharper focus following Amazon’s November decision.
The mixed-use first phase of the redevelopment is expected to run to 1.4 million square near the Beachmont stop of the Blue Line in Revere, just over the Eastie line. HYM wants to start construction in 2019.
Altogether, the redevelopment of Suffolk Downs is supposed to create 16.5 million square feet of residential, retail, office, hotel, and lab space built out over as long as two decades.
11. Dot Block
Boston, MA 02125
Recall that the multi-building project—around 10 total at last count—along Dorchester Avenue dates back a few years and had looked likely to start at different times. Now, with Samuels & Associates behind it, the project looks increasingly likely to break ground in 2019.
It will look different, according to plans that the developer has broached with locals (but not yet with the city through a formal filing). For one thing, there would be about 33 percent more apartments for around 490 total. The larger retail component would be chopped up in favor of smaller merchants.
And, in keeping with a general trend in Boston, an above-ground garage would now be built underground. That would free up about 1.25 acres of open space for parkland.
All in all, the project’s density would grow less than 5 percent, according to Samuels & Associates, with originally proposed building heights unchanged.