How the Seaport's Vision Finally Became Reality 20 Years Later
Construction in the Seaport District is gaining momentum by the minute, and now it's even closer to its 1990s vision of a 24/7 neighborhood on Boston Harbor. (One of the few good ideas any of us had in the '90s... we're lookin' at you, Marky Mark.) As it delivers its first waterfront housing, we checked in with Boston Harbor Association prez Vivien Li on what's new.
By next spring, Hanover and UDR’s $200M high-rise on Pier 4 designed by ADD Inc will be ready for occupancy. (Hanover partner David Hall is confident that leasing will go well, since at least 200 companies have moved into the Seaport District and Vertex has brought 1,800 employees into its new HQ across the street on Fan Pier.) With Pier 4 and other housing developments underway—plus the retail and restaurants accompanying them—the new Walsh Administration has a great opportunity to build on the Menino Administration’s vision and create a truly 21st century neighborhood, Vivien tells us.
The Fallon Co, which brought Vertex Pharmaceuticals and its $1.1B HQ to Fan Pier, is building 22 Liberty—111 super luxury condominiums—on an adjacent waterfront parcel. As the first for-sale housing on the harbor, it introduces permanent residents to help build the critical mass required to attract a supermarket and pharmacy. It’s the type of shopping “we’ve been waiting for,” Vivien says. This is making the Seaport more balanced than it was a year ago, says Fred Kramer, president of ADD Inc, which has designed several Seaport projects so far.
The next cranes rising in the area are for The Fallon Co’s 17-story, 515k SF office at 100 Northern Ave, where anchor Goodwin Proctor is leasing 380k SF. Site work started earlier this year. For the first time in its history, the white-shoe law firm is decamping from the Financial District to join other cool legal eagles that have landed in the breezy Seaport like Nutter McClennen & Fish and Foley Hoag. Fan Pier is a JV of The Fallon Co and Mass Mutual (as advised by Cornerstone).
In October of next year, 101 Seaport will be the new home of PwC being developed by Skanska USA Commercial Development. It will be the first office building to open in Seaport Square, the 6.3M SF, $3.5B, 20-building project being developed by a JV of Morgan Stanley and Boston Global Investors. Topping off of the 440k SF 101 Seaport is about two weeks away; soon after will start the installation of the trusses for the atrium system, says the architect, Jacobs Global Buildings’ Jonathan Ginnis. It’s likely to be Boston’s first major office building (250k SF-plus) with technologically advanced and energy-efficient triple glazing and a chilled beam system, he says.
The 136-key Envoy Hotel that Norwich Partners is developing in Seaport Square at 70 Sleeper St is expected to open next summer. It should be able to catch the wave of Boston's strong hotel market. Also, like most of the new construction, it will have ground-floor retail—4,000 SF in this case. The flurry of new restaurants and retail accompanying the nearly one dozen new buildings under construction will dramatically change the streetscape.
Twining Properties is mobilizing to build Watermark Seaport Square—a 346-unit apartment building—in a JV with Skanska. The two-building complex of six and 17-stories with 25k SF of ground retail will cost $126M just for construction. Completion is slated for March 2016. Nearby, The Berkshire Group, Boston Global Investors, and WS Development will soon start construction on the $625M, 832-apartment project One Seaport Square, which'll also include 260k SF of retail.
Expect construction at the Seaport to become even more intense. Every block of Seaport Square is slated for development, and it’s happening faster than anticipated, says Fred (snapped yesterday on Summer Street). Next: A site will be prepared for underground parking to serve the entire Seaport Square, and work will start on a 300-key Yotel near the Silver line stop. As people flood into the Seaport, the challenge ahead is to plan and build more robust, transportation infrastructure. Think about it: Without the Big Dig, the Ted Williams Tunnel and Silver Line, we “wouldn't have a bustling and growing Seaport”’ Fred says.
But some things aren't changing, says this reporter's son Jamie (above with twin sister Sage). At the 20-year-old Barking Crab (now across a narrow street from the Envoy), the lobster, fried clams, and fish sandwiches are, as he says, still "Yum."