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Developer unwraps latest South End life-sciences project

1033-1055 Washington St. rendering

Rendering by Elkus Manfredi.

The Druker Co. has filed plans with the BPDA to replace a vacant warehouse and a parking lot with a two-building, 588,000-square-foot life-sciences complex at 1033 Washington St. in the South End.

The proposed 10-story buildings, each topped by shielded rooftop HVAC and mechanical systems, would include ground-floor commercial and non-profit space and would share a 371-space underground garage on the two-acre parcel between Washington Street and Shawmut Avenue, next to the parking lot of the CMart Supermarket, which is itself slated to be torn down for a residential building.

Druker says the lab space would be permitted for Level 2 experimentation, which could involve "moderate-risk infectious agents or toxins that pose a risk if accidentally inhaled, swallowed, or exposed to the skin" and which would require equipment to decontaminate laboratory waste. This is in contrast to the BU biolab on Albany Street, which is licensed for Level 4 - for work with the world's deadliest microorganisms.

Although Boston talks a big game about becoming a 24/7 city, Druker says the ground-floor commercial space is designed to add "18/7" life to the area with ground-floor retail and possibly restaurant uses. It adds:

The Project involves the construction of two architecturally striking buildings, which will add material enhancements and visual vibrancy to the neighborhood. The massing, and height complement the recent adjacent developments in this northerly quadrant of the South End. The life science/office use of the Project reinforce the connections between the heart of the South End, Tremont Street, and Downtown Boston and complement the eclectic South End architectural heritage and context with a contemporary building.

The company is considering a three-story skybridge to connect the two buildings:

Rendeirng showing skybridge


Both Washington Street and Shawmut Avenue will be designed in accordance with Complete Streets guidelines replacing narrow sidewalks with the full complement of street amenities. Washington Street frontage will be lined with retail and restaurant spaces to engage pedestrians and enliven ground floor activities along Washington Street.

The new landscape, and pedestrian-friendly courtyard, connecting Washington Street and Shawmut Avenue will restore the notion of the historic street grid and block pattern of the South End.

The building sits in a "coastal flood resilience" zone, which means that, among other features, the building will have " a FEMA compliant deployable flood barrier
system to protect the building’s ground and below-grade levels" during and after possibly flooding storms.

Because the site is larger than one acre, Druker says it will file for a "planned development area," which would let it negotiate specifics of what can be built on the land, rather than going through the city zoning process, which would require approval from both the BPDA and the Zoning Board of Appeal.

Druker adds that it expects the complex to add $4 million a year to Boston tax coffers, and that it will mean a roughly $6.3 million payment to the BPDA's affordable-housing fund and $1.1 million to its job-training fund.

1033-1055 Washington St. filings and meeting schedule.



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My first reaction to the picture was "Government Center".

That can't be a good thing.

Voting closed 11

For whatever reason I thought that was a Verizon (and probably before that a NYNEX / New England Telephone) building. Maybe from something I saw on the side once? It's always been an odd eyesore in the middle of the South End, although I guess in the days of the El it wasn't particularly desirable. They only tore that down 35 years ago! This building was built in the 1970s, some 20 years after the whole New York Streets neighborhood was razed, replacing houses with warehouses and the Herald (which the city didn't want to move out, funny now that it's in Braintree). Many photos here.

Just to the south of the site, on Washington is the T's Shawmut substation, which appears to have been built in the late 1970s or early 1980s. At the time it was adjacent to the El, but only for a few more years. But the T still has power distribution along Washington Street, and I wouldn't expect that substation to move any time soon.

Voting closed 15

This whole area is a dead zone, and these buildings look great. This will better connect the ink block area with the rest of the south end. Glad there will be retail as well (though residential space would also be welcome).

Voting closed 24

It would also be a good look for being converted to an apartment building once the life sciences glut doesn't pan out.

But uh... pretty wild for "coastal flood resilience" to refer to deployable barriers rather than, y'know... not building in a flood zone, or having a more systemic solution.

By the way, I get two very different results for "1033 Washington St, Boston" when I search. What's up with that?

Voting closed 8

And are listed in the project notification form, if not the obviously way too short summary of it I provided. These include ensuring the first floor starts above what the city is projecting for future "100 year storms," and that key building systems are built at least a foot above that.

Voting closed 13

Deployable barriers may fail to deploy, but having your main spaces be up on stilts is a tried-and-true technique. :-)

(By systemic I actually meant city-wide -- seawalls and such. But I suppose true resilience is hyperlocal too.)

Voting closed 6

Boston has at least three Washington Streets that don't connect to each other: the one through downtown/South End/Roxbury, the one through Brighton, and the one in Charlestown. As far as I know only the first one has addresses in the thousands, though.

Voting closed 3

By the way, I get two very different results for "1033 Washington St, Boston" when I search. What's up with that?

Your other result might be in Brighton or Dorchester, both of which have their own Washington St., not related to the one where this project will be built.

Voting closed 4

I forgot that Boston is like that, having eaten a bunch of towns. I even used to live in Allston on a street that has a twin in downtown Boston, so I should have realized that. :-)

Voting closed 3

that looks like... what it looks like.

Voting closed 6