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The Davis Cos. Bets Big On Boston's Seaport With Omni Hotel And A Return To Ray Flynn Marine Park

With its simultaneous plans to build the Seaport’s largest hotel and renovate a 376K SF industrial space, The Davis Cos. has swiftly re-emerged in the last month as a key player in the neighborhood’s hot development streak.

Rendering of the future Omni Hotel along Summer Street in Boston's Seaport neighborhood

Along with Omni Hotels & Resorts and hotelier Robin Brown, The Davis Cos. kicked off the building process on May 15 for a 1,054-room convention center hotel across the street from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Massport, the site’s landowner, had wanted a large-scale convention center hotel on its property for years, but it was dealt a setback when Gov. Charlie Baker put a freeze on a proposed convention center expansion in April 2015. 

Massport continued with its request for proposals process to find a developer for the site despite a bigger convention facility becoming less of a certainty. The Omni/Brown/Davis partnership’s $550M proposal for a larger hotel beat out five other proposals for smaller developments. The hotel will include a 25K SF ballroom that will be the third-largest in the area after the 40K SF room across the street at the BCEC and a 36K SF one under construction at the Wynn Boston Harbor casino in Everett. Construction on the Seaport property is expected to be complete by early 2021.

Rendering of the Omni Hotel across the street from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

“Our goal is to help continue the transformation of South Boston’s waterfront district, as there has already been significant development over the last several years,” Omni Hotels & Resorts CEO Jim Caldwell said.

The Omni project is not the only development the company has underway in the neighborhood. Davis announced in April a return to a stretch of the Seaport it famously revived before the rest of the neighborhood began its current building boom. 

“The Seaport, and in particular the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park area, is arguably becoming Boston’s most innovative research and development cluster,” Davis Cos. founder and CEO Jonathan Davis said.

Davis’ company acquired the long-term leasehold interest of 88 Black Falcon Ave. in the neighborhood’s Ray Flynn Marine Park. The developer had its first ties to the industrial enclave in 1999, when it acquired the nearby 550K SF Boston Design Center and renovated and repurposed the property with upgraded tenants and higher rents.

88 Black Falcon Ave.

Davis sold the property in 2005 to New York development REIT Vornado, which then sold it to Millennium Partners in 2012. Its current owner, German-backed Jamestown Properties, bought it in 2013. The developer has since rebranded the complex as the Innovation and Design Building. A representative with Capital One, the Black Falcon property’s $60M mortgage lender, expects a similar upgrade to go on next door. 

“We were happy to complete this transaction, which will allow The Davis Cos. to achieve its vision for the transformation of 88 Black Falcon Ave.,” Capital One senior vice president Lisa Greeley said in an email. “In addition to helping the company preserve its cash flow, it was important that there be minimal disturbance to existing tenants and both of these crucial goals were accomplished in the transaction that we structured.”

Planned improvements to the 376K SF development include upgrades to common areas, a new fitness center and bike rooms for storing and repairing equipment. The project will add to a growing list of developments in not necessarily the most convenient part of the neighborhood. 

Nearby, Reebok continues to build out its new headquarters in the IDB. Across the Reserve Channel from 88 Black Falcon Ave., Redgate has recently announced plans for a 2M SF mixed-use development over the next 10 to 15 years on the site of the old Edison Power Plant. 

CORRECTION, MAY 31, 3:27 P.M. ET: A Capital One executive's name has been corrected as has her company's role in the 88 Black Falcon Ave. transaction.