Throughout the city and beyond development projects at (and above) transit hubs are changing the face of many of the major stations in Boston. At ULI’s Fall meeting developers and MassDOT spoke about the unique challenges of developing these parcels including The Hub on Causeway, Bulfinch Crossing, Back Bay South End Gateway, and South Station.
Under construction now are the Hub on Causeway and Bulfinch Crossing. The development of the Hub on Causeway dates back 30 years with the first phase of the project finally set to open on November 1st. This first phase includes a new grand entrance to the TD Garden and North Station. Chris Maher of Delaware North told the group that “large mixed-use projects are hard to pull together. You have to hit each of these market cycles at the right time.” Because of the positive market fluctuations, the development team felt comfortable moving forward with the office and hotel pieces of the project at this time. In total the Hub on Causeway will bring 1.87 million square feet of mixed-use development to the area that was originally thought of as just a location for events. The easy access to transit, however, has made it a prime location for office, residential, and retail use.
At Bulfinch Crossing, the 423 unit residential tower is currently under construction on the 5-acre parcel. Development of this site includes the staged teardown of the massive Government Center garage. HYM is keeping part of the garage open, around 1,300 spaces per day, for cash flow during the project. Thomas O’Brien from HYM pointed out “Now young people want to live in the city, and as the result of this these projects become possible.” The next step of Bulfinch Crossing is the office tower, that HYM hopes to break ground on in the spring and complete by January of 2023.
Two upcoming projects include The Back Bay South End Gateway & South Station Air Rights Development. Melissa Schrock of Boston Properties spoke on the unique challenges posed by their project at Back Bay Station. As the site is almost completely over rail lines or highway their construction team will have to pass piles for the structure through the existing parking deck. As part of the project, they are also taking over management of Back Bay Station and providing improvements to the transit hub. In total their development of the area will include around $140 million of public benefit. The 1.37 million square foot mixed-use projects will feature 582,500 square feet of office space, approximately 61,800 square feet of retail space and approximately 600 residential units.
The South Station Air Rights project will be built in three phases and also has to factor in active transit lines into its plans. The development is set to include over 2.5 million square feet of space and also feature an expanded bus terminal and better waiting area for passengers. According to MassDOT, the project hopes to break ground this coming spring.
With the booming real estate and construction market, Scott Bosworth the Chief Strategy Office for MassDOT says the agency is looking at the development of stations not just in Boston but outside the city from Newburyport to Attleboro and west to Framingham. While they want to move forward with development they want to ensure the needs of their customers are met which is why the majority of these projects include major improvements to the stations involved. As the stations are improved MassDOT has major upgrades coming to the red line and orange lines as well. While each of these projects poses its own planning challenges the panel was in agreement that our transportation system needs to keep improving to sustain development in these areas and throughout the city.