Board approves pile-of-boxes development for Back Bay station; churches to get $3 million for shadow mitigation

New development at Back Bay

Architect's rendering.

The BPDA board yesterday approved a large mixed-use development that will include $69 million in renovations to the fume-filled Back Bay T station.

The Boston Properties project, which will include an office/retail building and two residential buildings with 600 residential units, also comes with $3 million in payments to nearby Old South Church and the owners of other historic buildings to fix any issues that might be caused by shadows from the project.

The buildings will range from 26 to 35 stories. Rather than include the required affordable units in the new complex, which will sit mainly atop what is now the garage next to the station - and the current bus area off Clarendon Street - Boston Properties will build 90 affordable units someplace else and pay $3 million into a BPDA fund to help people buy homes at less than stratospheric prices..

In addition to helping to fix up the train station, Boston Properties will extend its retail offerings, which now consist of some food outlets, a florist and some pushcarts selling Boston-themed gear.

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Comments

Finally!

Thank goodness! I was growing so tired of seeing poor people who aren't serving me in local high end establishments, and I'm also running out of places to host my airbnb guests. This is a win win!

Now if only the city would hurry up and give Long Island to the highest bidder.

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Counter Point

Jobs next to a major transportation nexus.

Housing for people.

Diagonally across from this site is a very successful 269 unit mixed income development that replaced parking lots. 90 more units will pop up somewhere in the city soon after, meaning larger units for families rather than shoeboxes placed against the diesel vents for Back Bay station and the Pike.

The brats, sorry millennials, are getting older and getting married. That means kids and for many a decamp to the suburbs rather than put up with BPS, thus increasing suburban housing prices and decreasing urban prices. I've gotten that from 3 real estate investors in the past two weeks.

Keep your knickers on straight. It will all even out.

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Decamping for suburbs and the "Stack-o-Books"

By on

I have been making this point for several years now. I tell everyone in the western suburbs that will listen (which is not many) that they better get with walkable downtowns with more restaurants and at least some real bike infrastructure (that means more than a sorry looking bike rack, people). I usually add, to get a rise, that the era "wheyah do ya pahk?!?" being the first item of discussion for every development proposal is coming to a close faster than they realize. Don't believe it? Just go to any open house out there to verify - fully 60-80% of the cars parked out front have currently valid Boston Resident Parking Permits (usually South Boston or South End) and a infant seat in the back. Generational difference is that those cars are often the sole car for the family, which they do not want to drive for trips under a mile or 2.

As for this development, I prefer "stack of books" to "pile-of-boxes". It's unusual for these parts, and I must admit, I kind of like it.

The biggest public benefit will the renovations to BBY. The people working in and using that station have deserved better (e.g., breathable air, enough light to see where you're going) for decades. It should also improve train service, as high level platforms will make it much easier for mobility-impaired riders to get on/off trains and will greatly reduce dwell times as even non-mobility impaired pax will be able to move faster without having to go up and down train stairs and all doors can open.

Hopefully this can get done before the cycle turns.

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I should give some credit here.

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I think that Natick is doing a good to very good job of revitalizing its downtown with more housing and restaurants, etc. The weekly (all year round) Farmers' Market is an amazing community asset.

Framingham is beginning to do some good things and has extraordinary potential (if I had $$ to invest, I'd invest it there).

Wellesley is not doing a damned thing, is arguably impeding good things, has tons of empty storefronts as a result, and it's inexcusable.

Needham is best in class, and has been for several years (ever since ditching the dry town thing).

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Just want to say

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I agree with everything you said 100% re this project and, more importantly, making suburban commercial areas more walkable. A small group of us in Milton have been pushing this as well and after many struggles, some progress is being made with our limited commercial areas having great restaurants with liquor licenses and good hours of operation. We've even added multi-family housing near the trolley to Ashmont. Although a mix of people have pushed for these changes, a fair amount are the many of us who started in Milton after attending an open house with a Southie or South End sticker on our car.

On another note, I'm glad this project will fix the station and air quality at Back Bay, having commuted through there for years on the commuter rail from Hyde Park. That station has long been in shameful condition.

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Check out Hudson

We bike there, load up on wonderful wood-fired pizza and amazing liquid nitrogen cooled ice cream, and then burn it off on the 30+ mile trip back. Now that the boys are older, we stop at Medusa if its open.

It has become a wonderful place to ditch your car and partake of a healthy and improving downtown district. Just lovely. Seems to draw people from many local areas to the experience. Surburban oasis of urban enjoyments.

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Many of those people are

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Many of those people are going to move back even if they don't build that. They will live a lot like people have always have in the suburbs.

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Money

If the city required developers to add money to a fund for rebuilding the bridge it might do more good in the long run. I'd support that as an option instead of an "affordable" housing lotto that very few win. Long Island served more people before it closed.

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Goofy, but whatever... this

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Goofy, but whatever... this isnwhat's trendy right now. Reminds me of MIT's silly starchitecture which reeks of a desperate grab for approval and attention.

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I like it

I don't love it but at least it's not a big boring glass box. (Looking at you, Delaware North.)

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Yes, MIT, one of the world's

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Yes, MIT, one of the world's most prestigious institutions in the midst of a worldwide boom and veneration of tech entrepreneurs and engineers is desperate for "approval," and "attention."

Good take.

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Well, at least it will fit in there

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what with all the other "curious" architecture in that area that's gone up recently. Opinions may differ, but there's now some cohesion, even if it's cohesion based around chaos.

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How on Earth

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Did this get approved?? Especially in Back Bay. Disgusting & a disgrace to Back Bay's beautiful architecture. Should be in the Seaport.

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As Opposed to the Garage That Is There Now?

I guess you are a fan of the urine stained mattress on the curb style of architecture.

Give this place credit for trying. Just remember that the Hancock was derided as ugly when it was proposed.

Also, this place is still better looking than 699 Boylston, 399 Boylston, 111 Huntington by miles.

Please also remember that a lot of the Back Bay's architecture is vanilla. It is just the familiarity of the area that makes it seem overly special to you.

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Disgusting?

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I really like the design - far better than a lot of the other new buildings we've been seeing lately.

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In addition to helping to fix

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In addition to helping to fix up the train station, Boston Properties will extend its retail offerings, which now consist of some food outlets, a florist and some pushcarts selling Boston-themed gear.

It sounds like they will let the vendors stay. I remember when the Red Sox were allowed to shutdown a public street (named after a racist no less) for their own private gain ($$) they refused to allow the independent vendors to stay. they put working class people out of business.

Go Houston Astros.

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Hey

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The guy just likes it when professional sports teams ask for handouts from the government. Give him a break.

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Curious

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Why are you now "formerly"?

Did you move making you like a WeDo or DoBo yuppie?

Or just get old and now you are the SoBo Ouppie?

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"Rather than include the

"Rather than include the required affordable units in the new complex..."

But isn't a big part of affordable housing requirements creating/maintaining mixed-income communities? I feel like developers are getting off too easy on off-siting the affordable component (see also Assembly Row).

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Sidewalk?

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Kinda like the design.

One contentious issue was the developer wanting to shrink the sidewalk width. This area really needs a wide sidewalk to accommodate varied simultaneous uses (MBTA commuters, Amtrack riders with suitcases, active sidewalk, vendors, etc)

Anyone know status on that?

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some realistic hopes

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based on the objections that came up at the South End Forum meeting last Wednesday, I really hope they are required to change. . .
1) their current exhaust venting plan so they send it up through vents placed in the building and out the roof (like the Intercontinental Hotel does for Central Artery tunnel fumes) rather than out onto the street in the neighborhood,
2) their current plan to move the 39 bus from the station to around the corner and across a couple of busy streets (that's for the sake of the elderly and those that have compromised mobility), and
3) plans to increase vendors in BBY that might constrain the volume of foot traffic through the station (it should be a transit hub first and an urban shopping center second)

. . . otherwise I'm all for residences over parking spaces (wonky architecture notwithstanding).

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