Tower to Rise in Back Bay
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 23:09
Last Thursday night during a Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) meeting, regulators approved one of the next biggest construction projects in downtown Boston, which includes the construction of a 691-foot condominium and hotel tower in what will become the city’s tallest residential building. All stakeholders present at the meeting were unanimously in favor of the project.
The 58-story building and its 25-story tower will be constructed at the edge of the Christian Science Plaza in the Back Bay, at the corner of Belvidere and Dalton streets. The project will have a total of 425 residences, with 170 condominiums, and about 250 hotel rooms. Both buildings will additionally hold retail and restaurant space within the 950,000-square-foot development area.
Master developer Carpenter & Co., of Cambridge, plans to begin construction early next year. It is predicted that the high-rise portion of the building will take about 30 to 36 months to build, and the mid-rise hotel tower will take from 20 to 24 months. Carpenter & Co. president Richard L. Friedman told The Boston Globe last week that these new designs will be “transformative” in the Back Bay area. The design of the 58-story building is modeled with respect to the architecture of the Christian Science mother church located next door, and will feature an equilateral triangle-shape with rounded corners.
The developers are known for their work on the luxury Liberty Hotel and on the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. The development’s lead architect, Henry N. Cobb, a Boston native, is renowned for his design of Boston’s famous John Hancock Tower, which was completed in 1976 and stretches about 100 feet above the new project’s building. Closer to the new development site, Cobb and his firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, had also designed the Christian Science Plaza and reflecting pool.
Since the new project is set to house both visitors and residents, the Back Bay will undoubtedly be receiving more attention as a landmark section of Boston. Cobb explains that the building will serve as a city skyline re-shaper and connecter, to fill the gap between the Christian Science Plaza and the Prudential Center, which “sit next to each other, but don’t talk to each other,” according to Cobb.
While Carpenter & Co.’s building has been granted official approval by the BRA, several more development projects are in the works that have the potential to dramatically redraw the Boston skyline.
AvalonBay Communities Inc., for example, recently issued a $200 million proposal for 38-story apartment tower to be located next to the TD Garden, which would include a two-story retail arcade connecting to the Garden and North Station.
The redevelopment of the aging Government Center garage into office, retail, and residential space is expected, while in Downtown Crossing, construction has already begun on a 625-foot residential tower.
At Thursday’s meeting, the BRA additionally approved a handful of significant housing projects, which include the multi-phase transformation of the Bartlett Street MBTA bus yard in Roxbury into a 323-unit housing, retail, and office development.
Development proposals cropping up in this number indicate that Boston is ready to take on more permanent city-dwellers, and is all part of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s recently-revealed plan to build 30,000 housing units in the city by 2020.
The plan involves measures such as building taller structures with smaller residential units, selling discounted public land to developers, and using subsidies to create more affordable housing.
Menino’s ultimate goal is for more affordable city housing to be available particularly to the middle class, young professionals, elderly residents, and families. With the mayor’s plans to leave office, developers have been hurrying to obtain permits before the start of a new administration.
Regarding the newly-approved Back Bay/Christian Science Plaza project, Menino told WBZ-TV that he is proud of what will be accomplished by its construction, commenting on how “It also creates jobs in our society today, jobs for the future,” and adding, “I like the way it was designed, it fits into that neighborhood perfectly.”