City, state officials are looking for tax breaks, road improvements to entice somebody to build a 1,000-room hotel at the South Boston convention center, the Globe reports. Best part is at the end, when the guy who runs the Mass. Convention Center Authority brings out the old world-class-city argument, as in: How can Boston be world class if it doesn't have a 1,000-room hotel at the convention center?
Mayor Menino and downtown merchants met today to discuss setting up a business improvement district that would levy fees on merchants to improve and market the area.
But one thing they won't be doing: Changing the name. Although a consultant recommended that a few years back, the Downtown Crossing Partnership reports:
We decided to keep the name. It is rich in history and very representative of the area.
Matt Conti outlines the BRA's latest draft guidelines for development along the Greenway.
Like the W hotel and condo project, which just declared bankruptcy? The Globe asks.
Harry Mattison notes the BRA holds a meeting tonight about the proposed Lowe's, based on a 687-page draft report that he doubts any normal person could really understand even if they actually read it:
... In other communities, developers have agreed to fund an independent study conducted by and for the community. Even Harvard agreed to fund a $150,000 independent study in exchange for the Phase One wavier from the State. ... And all of this would be so much easier, less contentious, and more meaningful if the BRA had followed through with this idea for a neighborhood planning initiative. It sounded great 3 years ago, but then it silently vanished leaving us to these ad-hoc and uninformed debates. ...
The BRA yesterday approved a $56.8-million redo of the the Old Colony housing project that will replace the current post-war project with a new six-story building and a series of townhouses.
People interested in what this could look like should take a ride out to Washington and Beech streets in Roslindale, where the city is in the middle of doing the same thing to the Washington-Beech project - for which the BRA also approved the second phase of construction - replacing the remaining old brick buildings with $50 million worth of townhouses and a park.
John Carroll, who lives in Brookline Village, wonders why elected officials didn't do much to stop a Borg cube from landing on Harvard Street while they are battling to do something about a proposed Mormon church off Rte. 9 in leafy Fisher Hill:
So: Fisher Hill gets to pick and choose but Brookline Village gets stuck with the Horror on Harvard Street?
Gotta ask: Is more than somebody in Brookline government getting greased here?
The Crimson reports Harvard is listening to residents not looking forward to a decade of living near a crater:
The proposal - the result of the Allston Development Group' s collaboration with the Boston Redevelopment Association - consists of removing the current scaffolding around the perimeter of the construction site and replacing it with a more permanent wood fence. The site would be surrounded by native perennial plants such as winterberry and red twig dogwood, in addition to river birches and red maples.
Shirley Kressel reports the state yesterday approved a $22.5-million tax break for Liberty Mutual over 20 years to build a new office tower at Columbus Avenue and Berkeley Street. That's on top of the $16-million, 20-year break the city will likely give the project now that the City Council has signed off on the deal (with Yancey and Turner opposed).
A developer hopes to turn vacant space above the Windsor Button Shop, 29 Temple Pl., into 44 housing units marketed to medical residents and film makers in town for short stays.
Joseph Hanley, lawyer for the Suites at Temple Place, told the Boston Licensing Board the button shop would stay where it is. He emphasized the suites would not be marketed to undergraduates.
Nearby merchants and residents generally spoke in favor of the plan as a way to bring more vitality to the neighborhood, although one resident expressed concern about the building turning into an SRO if the economy continues to sour.
Interesting: Even as the city looks to give one developer a $16-million tax break, it rejects a $50 million offer from another. Of course, one is longtime local stalwart Liberty Mutual, which wants to build its new headquarters in the Back Bay, while the other is Menino foe Don Chiofaro, who wants to put a 59-story tower (and a tinier 40-story one) right on the waterfront. The BRA says it will deign to let him put a 16-story building on what is now the aquarium parking garage.
Construction of the new Carpenters Center (that striking building with the giant LED screen off the Expressway), by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters:
City councilors praise Liberty Mutual expansion but tear into CEO; some residents object to tax breakBy adamg - 3/12/10 - 3:42 pm
Boston city councilors today generally backed a proposed city/state deal to grant Liberty Mutual 20 years' of tax breaks to build a new headquarters in the Back Bay, but said the insurer's CEO really should take his foot out of his mouth and stop comparing Boston to Venezuela (assuming the Herald quoted him accurately, which councilors Feeney and Linehan doubted). Residents, however, objected to giving a very profitable company money for building on a "blighted" property. The company itself said it has no plans to move out of Boston no matter what happens - but might not expand without the tax break.
Now why would the CEO of Liberty Mutual give what the Herald calls a rare interview to complain that Massachusetts taxes are too high for his tastes and to blame state workers for affecting his profits? Could it have anything to do with a city-council committee hearing today on whether to give the company a $16-million tax break to build a new headquarters building in the Back Bay? If you can't get to City Hall for the Committee on Economic Development and Planning's meeting at noon, you can watch on Comcast Channel 51 or online with RealPlayer.
Third Decade thinks it's good the mayor may finally do something about the mess that is the Filene's Hole downtown, but wonders when he'll do something about the derelict Ferdinand's building in Dudley Square - which the city already owns:
... C'mon, Mr. Mayor, address development in the city in a holistic manner. What's good for downtown is also good for the neighborhoods. Address our problems as aggressively as you're addressing those where the tourists and suburbanites go. We want progress, too!
So those steel girders can just slowly turn to dust now - unless some enterprising soul puts some boards across them and turns the ex-construction site into a teeter-totter park.
Steven Roth, the New York real-estate mogul who gave us the Hole, told an audience of Columbia architecture students last week that he deliberately pulled a similar stunt in New York in the hopes of gaining concessions from the city:
Why did I do nothing? Because I was thinking in my own awkward way, that the more the building was a blight, the more the governments would want this to be redeveloped; the more help they would give us when the time came.
And they did.
Of course, nothing gets Tom Menino's Boston up quite like a New York developer pulling stuff like that. The Globe reports Hizzonah has directed the BRA (which, remember, can do pretty much anything it wants) to start looking at taking the whole site over by eminent domain. Sure, the city's supposed to at least have some pretense it's taking the land for some greater good - maybe they can finally build that downtown swimming hole. Wonder what Roth's Boston partner on the deal, John Hynes, thinks?
Michael Pahre wondered why the company that wants to put a Lowe's in Brighton Landing would submit a traffic report that shows traffic along Market Street that is far worse than anything Pahre, who drives the road, ever sees. He comes up with a possible answer: It would make the big-box store's plan to reduce traffic seem all the better. Lowe's goes before the Brighton Allston Improvement Association tonight.
And yes, this is the same parcel on which New Balance has proposed a mixed-use development.
Banker & Tradesman reports developers submitted a letter of intent with the BRA yesterday to plow the Fenway Howard Johnson's (and the Hong Kong) under so they can build two 12-story buildings with residential, hotel and retail space.
Back when the region was awash in cash, a private developer proposed replacing the Lechmere Green Line stop with a fancy-shmancy indoor station as part of the T's plans to extend the line into Somerville and Medford. When that crashed and burned, the T proposed a simple Riverside-like station with no real way to get commuters to the station from across a six-lane highway.
Mark Jaquith outlines a proposal by a working group of local residents and merchants to build something better, even if not as grandiose as the old NorthPoint plan:
... A triangle between Cambridge Street and the O'Brien Highway divided by First Street where it extends into NorthPoint is what there is to work with. The group crafted a plan that incorporates substantial commercial development, some of it quite bold, into a new Lechmere Square that would anchor the eastern end of the city with a civic plaza, and a year-round public market and a seasonal farmers’ market.
This "transit-oriented" development would complement the Cambridge and First Street business districts, benefit residents, attract shoppers from the region, offset the DOT project cost, and add to the city’s commercial tax revenues.
Michael Pahre rounds up the latest news and conspiracy theories on the $250 million mixed-use proposal in Brighton, which centers on a parcel of land owned by another company that still hasn't completely given up on the idea of sticking a Lowe's there.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority today approved a 10-year construction project that will reshape the gateway to the Longwood Medical Area at the Riverway and Brookline Avenue.