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Why Mixed-Use Is The Cutting Edge Of Boston Development

Give the people what they want might be an old show biz adage, but it applies to real estate development in our time—and what the people (especially Millennials) want are mixed-use properties that help create a distinct live/work/play environment, according to the speakers at Bisnow's Boston Major Projects event.


Snapped: Trinity Financial managing director Kenan Bigby and Sam Park Cos CEO Sam Park. Kenan says the demand for live/work/play isn't confined to upper-income Bostonians. There's a need for workforce housing and affordable housing that offer urban amenities, including access to the T.

Kenan's company is at work on Treadmark, an 83-unit development near Ashmont Station on the Red Line that includes affordable units as well as for-sale condos, retail and parking. One of the development's main goals, Kenan says, is to add to the vibrancy that's already well underway in the Ashmont/Peabody Square neighborhood.

Sam says authenticity is an important concept. A development has to feel like it's part of the neighborhood, and respect its history, but also add to what the neighborhood could be. His development in Littleton, The Point, aims to help provide what the area needs. It includes retail, but also restaurants, entertainment, a hotel, greenspace and more. "A mix of uses brings people in," he says.


Here are Samuels & Associates president Joel Sklar and HubSpot global director of facilities Ken Papa. Joel says his project, Pierce Boston in the Fenway neighborhood, has been informed by discussions with neighborhood organizations about its potential to help reweave the area back into the larger fabric of Boston. It was a long-term process, with a lot under consideration. What should it look like? What should be in the mix? What should the traffic patterns be? "We learned a lot from our neighbors," he says.

Ken says one of the challenges facing HubSpot is finding space to maintain its pace of growth—especially space that helps attract and retain Millennial talent. Growing in many places, including Boston, isn't as easy as it used to be. Working from home, in a more seamless fashion than previously, will be a bigger trend, he predicts.


Here are Nickerson PR & Nickerson RE founder Lisa Nickerson, who moderated, and AEW Capital Management managing director Robert Plumb. From an investor's point of view, Robert points out, Boston is a city that everyone wants to invest in, and everyone wants to emulate. There's an incredible pent-up demand for offices Downtown, or along the 128, and for residential properties throughout the market, he says, and the dynamic driving demand isn't likely to change.

There are challenges ahead for the Boston market, however. Our speakers note Millennials will have kids, and if they're going to stay in Boston, the school system needs fixing. Infrastructure is also critical, if the area's going to deal with problems such as 128 Corridor congestion.


The event itself was able to showcase a mixed-use project by being held at 226 Causeway St, the office component of the building owned by Invesco and managed by Colliers International New England. (234 Causeway St is the residential component, under separate ownership.) 226-234 Causeway St consists of a 12-story brick-and-beam mixed-use building in Boston’s North Station neighborhood.

The building dates from 1906, when it was the Sunshine Biscuit Co building. In 2002, it was converted into modern office space and condos while preserving its historical character. The redevelopment included the addition of six stories of residential space above the office/retail component.