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Mayor Menino's Greatest Real Estate Hits

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As he announces he will not, in fact, be mayor for life, we thought we'd run down some of Tom Menino's choicest economic-development benchmarks as Boston's chief executive since 1993. It's important to remember that Menino was not a mere booster of development (though he was that); he often took an integral, personal part in the city's physicality. Like this anecdote from a January 2012 profile in Governing magazine:

Several years ago, the mayor was meeting in his conference room with a developer of a proposed 36-story skyscraper in the Back Bay neighborhood. Menino reportedly took one look at the design and dismissed it because he wasn't a fan of flat roofs. The developer later returned with a scale model of the building and a dozen different miniature tops. He kept placing the tops on the building until the mayor pointed to the one he liked. Conversation over. Project good to go. Rock on, Your Honor.


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1. Eastie Waterfront

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Marginal Street & Lewis Street
Boston, MA 02128

In late 2011, Mayor Menino announced an ambitious plan to jumpstart nearly $600 million in development along the East Boston waterfront, development that could create up to 1,800 housing units and that would be partly dependent on beefed-up water transit. Part of it, the 176-unit Portside at East Pier (rendered), got under way earlier this year.

2. Aquarium Place

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70 East India Row
Boston, MA 02110

This never-was twin-tier project, which would have planted 750,000 square feet of office space as well as luxury apartments and a five-star hotel at the end of the Greenway, is a perfect example of Menino's clout. Hizzoner didn't care for the scope (particularly the height) and after developer Don Chiofaro had the temerity to disagree with him publicly, Aquarium Place went gradually, by 2012, into the dustbin of history.

3. Innovation District

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Summer Street
Boston, MA

It's almost impossible to overstate the effect this Menino-made district has had on the city's economic-development psyche. It doesn't really exist as a definable neighborhood, but the Innovation District has come to represent all that is forward-looking in Boston's commercial growth. It's tech and biotech and micro-apartments and Seaport Square, oh my!

4. Millennium Tower

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426 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02108

Woah, Nellie! What will be Boston's tallest residential tower was once a gaping hole in the ground, something that never ceased to be a stone in Menino's shoe. The hole was left by Jersey developer Vornado Realty, who in mid-2008, ceased development of a 39-story tower to replace the old Filene's building. It's not entirely clear what happened, but Vornado, after being relentlessly criticized for inaction by the mayor, tucked tail in early 2011, and cleared the way for Ritz-Carlton developer Millennium Partners to step in.

5. Dudley Square

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Washington Street & Dudley Street
Boston, MA 02119

The obsequies for the mayor have largely centered around his dedication to building up Boston's neighborhood feel. The rehab of the Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square into a modern office complex for the city schools' HQ is a prime example of this. The Ferdinand redo is expected to jumpstart other development in surrounding Roxbury.

6. 115 Winthrop Square

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115 Federal Street
Boston, MA 02110

Go hard or go home. Everyone knows that that's Boston's motto (it's more elegant in Latin), and Menino took that to heart with such ambitious projects as 115 Winthrop Square, which last decade would have plunked Boston's tallest tower on a city-owned lot in the Financial District. Rumor has it that developer Steve Belkin is once again trying to construct the 1,000-foot spire with City Hall's blessing.

7. The Downtown BID

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Summer Street & Chauncy Street
Boston, MA 02110

Menino championed the idea of a Downtown Boston Business Improvement District as far back as the mid-1990s, seeing the plan die in the state Legislature time and again. The BID, covering 34 blocks and 35 million square feet of office space, finally launched in 2011.

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1. Eastie Waterfront

Marginal Street & Lewis Street, Boston, MA 02128

In late 2011, Mayor Menino announced an ambitious plan to jumpstart nearly $600 million in development along the East Boston waterfront, development that could create up to 1,800 housing units and that would be partly dependent on beefed-up water transit. Part of it, the 176-unit Portside at East Pier (rendered), got under way earlier this year.

Marginal Street & Lewis Street
Boston, MA 02128

2. Aquarium Place

70 East India Row, Boston, MA 02110

This never-was twin-tier project, which would have planted 750,000 square feet of office space as well as luxury apartments and a five-star hotel at the end of the Greenway, is a perfect example of Menino's clout. Hizzoner didn't care for the scope (particularly the height) and after developer Don Chiofaro had the temerity to disagree with him publicly, Aquarium Place went gradually, by 2012, into the dustbin of history.

70 East India Row
Boston, MA 02110

3. Innovation District

Summer Street, Boston, MA

It's almost impossible to overstate the effect this Menino-made district has had on the city's economic-development psyche. It doesn't really exist as a definable neighborhood, but the Innovation District has come to represent all that is forward-looking in Boston's commercial growth. It's tech and biotech and micro-apartments and Seaport Square, oh my!

Summer Street
Boston, MA

4. Millennium Tower

426 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108

Woah, Nellie! What will be Boston's tallest residential tower was once a gaping hole in the ground, something that never ceased to be a stone in Menino's shoe. The hole was left by Jersey developer Vornado Realty, who in mid-2008, ceased development of a 39-story tower to replace the old Filene's building. It's not entirely clear what happened, but Vornado, after being relentlessly criticized for inaction by the mayor, tucked tail in early 2011, and cleared the way for Ritz-Carlton developer Millennium Partners to step in.

426 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02108

5. Dudley Square

Washington Street & Dudley Street, Boston, MA 02119

The obsequies for the mayor have largely centered around his dedication to building up Boston's neighborhood feel. The rehab of the Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square into a modern office complex for the city schools' HQ is a prime example of this. The Ferdinand redo is expected to jumpstart other development in surrounding Roxbury.

Washington Street & Dudley Street
Boston, MA 02119

6. 115 Winthrop Square

115 Federal Street, Boston, MA 02110

Go hard or go home. Everyone knows that that's Boston's motto (it's more elegant in Latin), and Menino took that to heart with such ambitious projects as 115 Winthrop Square, which last decade would have plunked Boston's tallest tower on a city-owned lot in the Financial District. Rumor has it that developer Steve Belkin is once again trying to construct the 1,000-foot spire with City Hall's blessing.

115 Federal Street
Boston, MA 02110

7. The Downtown BID

Summer Street & Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02110

Menino championed the idea of a Downtown Boston Business Improvement District as far back as the mid-1990s, seeing the plan die in the state Legislature time and again. The BID, covering 34 blocks and 35 million square feet of office space, finally launched in 2011.

Summer Street & Chauncy Street
Boston, MA 02110