Boston today released its bid to Amazon that calls for creation of a new Amazonian neighborhood at Suffolk Downs that would include 10,000 new housing units - some even aimed at people who don't work for the company - 1,500 hotel rooms, four new shopping districts and 40 acres of open space and the 8 million square feet of office space Amazon wants.
The bid, which is also supported by Revere and a variety of local institutions and companies, including newcomer GE, also says the state would reverse its longstanding distaste for a connection between the Red and Blue Lines downtown - which would put Amazon Downs within a quick commute of MIT and Harvard. That's at least a $750-million commitment. The bid does not discuss other specific goodies Boston, Revere and the state would be willing to toss Amazon's way in exchange for it making Boston its second headquarters.
HYM, which owns the site, and was already planning a massive mixed-use development there, says it could have the first 500,000 square feet of office space ready for occupancy by December, 2019.
The Phase 1 building design is focused around having Amazonians connected within not only the building, but also the larger campus and the surrounding neighborhood at large. The building is located adjacent to a Blue Line subway station and welcomes Amazonians to their everyday built environment as soon as they arrive to the Site. The path from the train to the building will be surrounded by multiple parks that would offer recreational and meeting nodes, restaurants and cafés to eat and socialize and a ground floor that will allow Amazon to experiment with retail program and lobby options of their choice. Visual and physical connectivity within the building levels, horizontally and vertically, is embedded in the design principles. The building spans large efficient open floor plates to provide flexibility in program design, furniture layout, circulation and to enable collaboration and engagement among Amazonians while keeping sustainable principles as core values.
Access to technology is a key Amazon demand, and the Boston proposal plays up the Boston area's concentration of universities, biotech and medical facilities and tech-based companies. It also notes that Amazon itself already has offices in Cambridge and Boston that will soon employ 2,1000 people.
The bid also talks up all the historical, cultural and sports stuff any Bostonian would be familiar with and points to our wonderful public-transit system - and notes the fact that East Boston housing is currently 40% less expensive than that downtown, in a neighborhood that, along with neighboring Revere, exemplifies the sort of multi-cultural area Amazon is looking to move into.
The proposal gets fairly detailed on how Boston and Revere would re-shape the roughly 160-acre Suffolk Downs site:
The dynamic mixed-use community at Suffolk Downs will be anchored by 550,000 square feet of neighborhood-based street front retail. The development's creative retail strategy will focus on attracting a diversity of shops and restaurants that will spill out onto its urban streets, keeping the community active and engaged throughout the day and night. The retail program within this mix-used development will include restaurants, coffee shops and cafes, as well as a grocery store, pharmacy, bicycle shop and entertainment spaces. The neighborhood will also embrace greater Boston's active and healthy lifestyle by including crossfit, fitness and climbing gyms. Furthermore, the Site will also attract existing local restaurants and businesses and cultivate an authentic retail vibe for the community which will not only serve on-site and residents, but also surrounding neighborhoods.
This vibrant retail environment will also provide opportunities for a range of customized Amazon spaces such as Amazon Go, Whole Foods and Amazon Books. It could also serve as a testing ground for new urban retail models as Amazon continues to redefine retail as we know it. Given this is a ground up development, the new buildings can be designed to accommodate the vision and needs of Amazon retail concepts from the beginning, maximizing their impact and integration within the Site.
Two of the districts, Beachmont Square and Belle Isle Square, will be located at the two existing Blue Line stations. These two nodes will consist of street level retail along tree lined primary streets that will extend into the heart of the Suffolk Downs mixed-use district and both of these nodes will connect into both the central common space but also the new Main Street retail district. These three districts will, when complete, create a continuous retail corridor that starts at one Blue Line station, traverses through the heart of the new mixed-use Suffolk Downs Site and connect to the other Blue Line subway station. Along the way it will connect and cross the 40-acre open space system creating opportunities and synergy between the retail and open space network. The fourth retail district will be an open-air entertainment hub. The unique character of this area will be defined by the many distinct restaurants and pubs lining its vibrant urban streets and central plaza. In addition to bowling and billiards, this 100,000 square foot entertainment hub will also include a small indoor concert venue and other nightlife attractions. Combined, these four retail districts will create a synergy that will not only engage the businesses and residents but draw people from the surrounding neighborhoods and the region.
Just in case Amazon doesn't like Suffolk Downs, the bid also proposes space in the Seaport area of South Boston, Widett Circle (the gift that keeps on giving), Roxbury, that oddly shaped complex proposed for Back Bay station, Harvard's undeveloped Allston lands and New Balance's Boston Landing complex in Brighton.