A Toronto developer has swapped out its plans for a 24-story office building at 125 Lincoln St. - now home to a parking garage and the Hei La Moon restaurant - with new plans for a 14-story building made up mainly of research and development space.
In a filing this week with the BPDA, Oxford Properties Group said it is committed to bringing Hei La Moon back to the new building - or if that can't be arranged, to find a similar style restaurant for some of the ground-floor retail space. The company said it talked to C-Mart about returning to the site, but said the market closed this spring due to Covid-19 issues and that its owners have no interest in re-opening there. Instead, Oxford says its hired Graffito SP, based in the Leather District, to fill ground-floor retail space with local merchants.
Importantly, as with other properties in Oxford’s Boston portfolio (e.g., 125 Summer Street, 225 Franklin Street), a traditional ground floor lobby will be eschewed in favor of a space that blends commercial, retail and public uses in a way that more thoughtfully reflects the live-work character of vibrant neighborhoods.
Oxford told the BPDA it can make money with a shorter building by making floors larger, through an overhang over MassDOT land along the neighboring I-93 onramp. The company said it looked at requests from Chinatown and Leather District residents to add housing to the building, but said that would only be economically viable with an even bigger building, because more office space would be needed to subsidize the residential units.
The new plans call for a 150-space underground garage, down from the 275-space garage the company originally proposed. But the company has increased the amount of ground-floor space devoted to retail from 4,100 to 8,500 square feet.
Oxford said the newer, shorter design will reduce the building's visual impact on the surrounding area and reduce the odds the building will generate enough wind velocity to knock people's hats off, the company says.
The company said it is currently talking to MassDOT about purchasing the air rights above its I-93 land. It cautions, however:
While this approach would help creatively respond to community and stakeholder feedback, it does bring additional risk, increased costs and additional regulatory review to the Project.
The company continued that the plans still call for creation of a new plaza and other improvements for pedestrians, including wider sidewalks and new plantings and lighting to create a nicer pathway between Chinatown and the Leather District.
Building footprint and proposed plazas:
125 Lincoln St. draft project impact report (81.7M PDF).
Other 125 Lincoln St. documents and calendar listings.