Is The Boston Seaport Well-Connected?
Between Boston Harbor and Logan Airport sits the Boston Seaport, one of the city's most talked about development sites.
But while the area will soon play host to new office towers, luxury high-rises and one of the largest hotels in New England, it has been plagued by criticism over a lack of sufficient public transportation. The current Silver Line bus route, already over capacity at peak hours, cannot support the anticipated influx of new commuters and residents.
Transportation is not the only connectivity concern as buildings rise along the waterfront. Tenants of new offices and apartments expect reliable internet infrastructure. To keep the talent and businesses incubating in the city’s universities local, wireless connectivity has become a critical part of the development process.
In 2010, Mayor Thomas Menino designated 1,000 acres of the South Boston waterfront as an innovation district with the intention of enticing major tech companies to build a live-work-play destination for their employees. The initiative echoes other programs Boston has enacted to modernize its buildings and infrastructure.
In May, the Boston Planning & Development Agency and the Department of Innovation and Technology partnered with WiredScore to create a broadband-ready building questionnaire.
Developed as part of Article 80, the optional questionnaire adds broadband connectivity to the list of building features the Boston Planning and Development Agency assesses for projects larger than 50K SF, small projects bigger than 20K SF, planned development areas and institutional master plans.
The broadband-readiness questions were generated through a collaborative effort among the BPDA, the DoIT and WiredScore. Boston is the first city to work with WiredScore to plan for internet needs during the real estate development process.
At the Boston Seaport, many of the buildings have already installed fixed wireless connections. Fixed wireless uses a rooftop-based antenna network for redundancy without having to rely on existing cabling in the building. Other buildings have opted for fiber optic cables, which allow the signal to travel greater distances at high speeds. Both services can offer the bandwidth and speed businesses require for success in a digital economy.
Many of the building also have Wired certifications. The Innovation and Design Building, a former military warehouse on Drydock Avenue converted into a 1.4M SF Class-A office complex, holds a Wired Certified Platinum rating. Built to serve a mix of companies from creative services to tech startups, the loft-style floor plans provide reliable internet service and complimentary WiFi along the ground-floor promenade.
The IDB’s amenities have attracted big-name clients. Reebok claimed 220K SF on the first five floors for its new headquarters, bringing with it 700 employees.
Down the street, 451 D St. is also Wired Certified Platinum. The Meritage Properties building offers 73K SF of leasable office, a 3K SF fitness facility, a tenant lounge and an on-site café. As part of WiredScore’s mission to create competition and tenant choice among internet service providers, the building has access to seven high-speed ISPs. Multiple points of entry for service increases redundancy and prevents the risk of an outage. Additional riser cable capacity, the backbone of telecommunications infrastructure, will support the future usage of growing tenants.
The Innovation and Design Building and 451 D St. are two of 10 offices already Wired Certified. In a competitive and digital-dependent economy, office buildings with strong wireless infrastructure attract and retain innovative and tech-oriented tenants. While there might be delays for a bus home at the end of the day, at least the internet is reliable during the wait.
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