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6 Tired Buildings Being Transformed Into Something New

Boston

Not all old buildings are landmarks, but they can still play a critical role in reviving languishing communities. These six buildings are going the Nicholas Cage/John Travolta route and getting a new face.

6 Tired Buildings Being Transformed Into Something New

We enlisted the help of Boston Preservation Alliance executive director Greg Galer. He tells us a fair share of old Class-B commercial buildings are pivotal in launching successful new developments.

1. Enterprise Center

6 Tired Buildings Being Transformed Into Something New

Where: 50 Centre St, Brockton

What It Was: Brockton Enterprise newspaper HQ

What It Is: 113 rental apartments (including 42 artist live-work units and the 71-unit Centre 50 luxury community). Rents for a two-bedroom start at $1,200/month, far, far below Boston and Cambridge. Enterprise Center also has: 52k SF of commercial and office space (now home to the Mass Department of Transitional Assistance); 10k SF of retail and artist exhibition space, and 4k SF of available restaurant space.

Cost: $100M adaptive reuse

Fun Fact: Yesterday was the official ribbon cutting.

Developer: Trinity Financial is the lead.

Financing: The state provided $16.7M in financing—a $9.7M  tax-exempt bond and $7M in New Markets Tax Credit allocation.

Greg says: Great example of how historic buildings in challenged gateway cities can be a catalyst to return them to their former economic vibrancy.

2. Nockege River

6 Tired Buildings Being Transformed Into Something New

Where: 1428 Main St, Fitchburg

What It Was: Fitchburg Yarn Co HQ

What It Is: 96 residences (24 for for lower-income tenants)

Cost: $30M

Fun Fact: It's a 110-year-old mill. They broke ground this week.

Developer: Winn Development (Gilbert Winn is the tall, dark-haired man in the center); designed by The Architectural Team

Greg says: Winn Development has revived many historic and old buildings nationwide by combining historic tax credits and low-income housing tax credits. Not only do these projects breath new life into their host communities, they also help the environment by reusing historic buildings.

3. Godfrey Hotel Boston

6 Tired Buildings Being Transformed Into Something New

Where:  505 Washington St, Boston

What It Was: Class-B office building 

What It Is:  Soon to open as a boutique hotel

Cost:  $60M

Fun Fact: First new downtown hotel since the recession.

Developer: Oxford Capital

Greg says: The project is a key player in the continuing turnaround of Downtown Crossing from an underused district to a dynamic and exciting part of the city.

4. Liberty Hotel

6 Tired Buildings Being Transformed Into Something New

Where:  215 Charles St, Boston

What It Was:  A rather infamous jail known for mistreatment of detainees.

What It Is:  A luxury hotel

Fun Fact: Remnants of the old jail are all around the hotel.

Developer: Carpenter & Co

Greg says: As a development, it was complex, involving several entities, including public agencies and its neighbors MGH and Mass Eye & Ear Infirmary. Despite the complications, “the result is wonderful,” Greg says.

5. Burnham Building

6 Tired Buildings Being Transformed Into Something New

Where:  426 Washington St, Boston

What It Was: Filene's department store

What It Is:  Offices for creative and tech companies

Fun Fact: It’s a Boston landmark, and the only downtown building designed by Daniel Burnham.

Developer: Millennium Partners

Greg says: The old department store has been a critical component in the financing and success of the new Millennium Tower being built on the other side of the block.

6. Russia Wharf

6 Tired Buildings Being Transformed Into Something New

Where:  290 Congress St, Boston

What It Was: A commercial/industrial building serving the port of Boston.

What It Is: One element of a mixed-use office, residential, retail complex.

Developer: Boston Properties

Fun Fact: It last was traded for more than $1k/SF.

Developer: Boston Properties

Greg says: It wasn’t a landmark, but it typifies the old Class-B commercial properties sometimes called “jewel box” buildings. They’ve become very valuable, and when taken as a whole, they're an integral part of what makes Boston desirable and unique.