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Meade Eyes New Tower Space, Harbor Renaissance In Boston

By Craig M. Douglas, Boston Business Journal
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File image (credit: AP)

File image (credit: AP)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Boston’s top planning official told a business audience Tuesday that the city’s $28 billion in proposed development will continue to snowball, as institutional money and efforts to transform the local waterfront should fuel a flood of new projects in the years to come.

Speaking at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast event, Boston Redevelopment Director Peter Meade specifically identified the city’s South Station and Winthrop Square area near Downtown Crossing as particularly ripe locations for potential new towers.

He said areas could easily “embrace more height” without delivering any long-term disruption to the existing layout.

Meade also reiterated the BRA’s long-standing position that such plans in other areas — namely along the Rose Kennedy Greenway — “are not appropriate,” according to the morning’s prepared remarks.

While Meade did not identify any particular projects, the statement appeared to mark the latest volley in the city’s ongoing spat with developer Don Chiofaro and Prudential Real Estate, which for years have been trying to build a massive tower complex along Atlantic Avenue in place of the Boston Harbor Garage.

Meade’s comments came just days before the BRA’s board will vote on a slate of major proposals to build out massive amounts of space in the city’s Fenway, Longwood and Allston neighborhoods.

Those plans include The Winsor School’s blueprint for 430,000 square feet of new facilities, including a 10-story tower; Samuels & Associates’ Fenway Triangle proposal for 290 residential units, 225,000 square feet of office space and a smattering of retail and parking facilities; and Harvard Business School’s Tata Hall, a $100 million executive-education facility to be funded in part by a $50 million gift from the founder of India’s Tata Cos.

Those projects, if approved, should be accompanied by billions more in development throughout the city, according to Meade’s remarks.

He said the city’s Dudley Square neighborhood alone will account for two million square feet of new retail and office construction over the next five years. The site’s redevelopment will be punctuated by the planned $115 million rehabilitation of the old Ferdinand Furniture Building .

Lisa van der Pool of the Boston Business Journal reports

Meade said interest from out-of-state investors — including institutional players abroad and, inparticular, China — continue to see Boston as a key location to deploy their cash.

“They tell me that there are four or five hot cities in the U.S. right now, and we’re one of them.”

Meade concluded by promising to deliver within 18 months a new Municipal Harbor Plan for the Downtown Waterfront, the opening salvo in the BRA’s strategy to further transform the city’s waterfront.

He said the effort will largely focus on improving access to and the usage of Boston Harbor’s myriad islands, adding that the plan will emphasize “vegetation and visitation.”

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