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Old February 20th, 2006, 06:10 AM   #21
DarkFenX
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Not the best news but normally news like this in Boston normally have people 'outraged' but this doesn't so this is actually good news.

Skyscraper plan draws mixed reaction
Menino cites 'bold vision'

By Yvonne Abraham, Globe Staff | February 19, 2006



Patrick Lavoie looked up at the patch of cloud-filled sky above a squat, gray, concrete parking garage on Federal Street, contemplating the city's plan to replace it with a 1,000-foot skyscraper.

No, thank you.

''I think we have enough tall buildings in Boston," said the accountant, who works nearby.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino emphatically disagrees. On Friday, he announced his wish to have someone construct an iconic building on the city-owned property on Federal Street that would ''symbolize the full scope of the city's greatness."

In a speech, he said the new building, which he hoped would be the city's tallest, would be the result of ''bold vision and world-class architecture."

Friday was a big day for bold vision on the other side of the city, too, as Harvard University joined Menino in unveiling plans for the first building in its long-anticipated new campus in Allston: a 500,000-square-foot science complex with a state-of-the-art stem cell laboratory as its centerpiece.

Community leaders in Allston seemed a good deal more impressed with Harvard's move yesterday than were some passers-by on Federal Street with the city's.

''It is an exciting time for me," said Paul Berkeley, president of the Allston Civic Association. ''We've been sitting at these meetings for many years now. We've done a lot of talking and a lot of listening, and it's exciting to be at the point where all of these ideas are going to start taking shape."

Both of Friday's announcements followed considerable debate: For years, the city and the university have been grappling with how best to put new stamps on Boston's landscape. Both have long experience trying to balance ambitious development plans with the wishes and concerns of residents.

And, for decades, Boston has resolved those issues far too conservatively -- even dowdily -- according to Alex Krieger, founding principal of Chan Krieger & Associates, and a planning and urban design professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. He said Menino's announcement is a sign that the city may be getting more adventurous.

''There is kind of a change in the air," he said. ''Since the era of urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s, people have been really shy about new buildings and modern architecture. We're coming out of a generation which was very conservative in a way, which wanted to preserve things, and build new things that were compatible with the old Boston."

Other cities have sought out ''monumental, iconic projects" as a way of competing with each other, he said. Now Boston seems to be waking up.

''It may be a little late, but Boston seems to be saying, 'Gee, we need to put ourselves back on the map with something remarkable,"' he said.

Krieger said Menino's 1,000-foot proposal is hardly remarkable enough, or even the best place to start remaking the city architecturally.

''If you're going to put a tall building there and you want to make international news, you've got to go a little bit higher, Tom," Krieger joked. And the financial district is pretty dense already, he said. ''Why not get the waterfront going? If you're trying to encourage substantial development, I'd put it in an area the city has been trying to develop for well over a dozen years."

Plenty of people have grown attached to the city-owned concrete parking garage, and its low parking rates, as well as to the sky above it, in a canyon of Boston-sized buildings.

''I like seeing blue," said Dale Johnson, an accountant who was working in a building across the street from the proposed site yesterday. ''I don't think there's enough blue sky, but maybe that's just because I'm from Essex."

Rick Hersey, a real estate broker from Westford who prefers suburban sprawl to skyscrapers, reacted to the idea of a new tall tower in an e-mail to the Globe.

''What's Mayor Menino doing, designing something with 70 or 80 stories, after what we went through Sept. 11?" Hersey said in a telephone interview. ''I thought everybody had learned their lesson, to plan cities without possible targets."

For years, residents' criticisms of Harvard's ambitions in Allston also have been vehement. After the university's secret purchase of 52 acres of Allston land was revealed in 1996, the neighborhood has been extremely wary.

But the hostility that marked those early years has been smoothed over after years of gestures by Harvard: The school has agreed to help finance affordable housing and educational programs for the city's children, boosted payments to the city in lieu of taxes, and embraced City Hall and community leaders in planning the new campus.

There remains concern in North Allston that the new campus will control too much land and drive up housing values and property taxes. But the community will hold Harvard's feet to the fire to secure neighborhood improvements, Berkeley said.

He said he was pleased with the site Harvard had chosen for its first buildings in Allston: ''a stretch of land that is pretty much unused."

''The main thing for us is, how do they scale it down so that, at the point it meets the neighborhood, does it have a neighborhood feel?" he said.
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Old February 20th, 2006, 06:17 AM   #22
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The United States in general needs a skyscraper revolution. It's time to start following Asia's footsteps.
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Old February 20th, 2006, 09:59 PM   #23
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^I meant how the mayor is basically soliciting for 1000-ft tower proposals on city-owned land. Usually, the muni government isn't so involved.
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Old February 20th, 2006, 10:53 PM   #24
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Fantastic news for Boston. That locale is just perfect for a new tallest. It would make the skyline SO much better!
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Old February 20th, 2006, 11:24 PM   #25
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I agree that the city's approach may be a bit unorthadox, but I admire Boston's proactivness.
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Old February 21st, 2006, 04:36 AM   #26
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Well that may be so but it's finally good the see the mayor taking this into his own hand instead of having the high-rise industry being runned by NIMBYs
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Old February 21st, 2006, 05:43 AM   #27
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This building would make a lot more sense if it was residential. Boston has a severe housing shortage and a 20% office vacancy rate.

Only government could come up with a silly proposal such as this. Too bad because I'd love to see it get built.
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Old February 21st, 2006, 06:41 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by czm3
This building would make a lot more sense if it was residential. Boston has a severe housing shortage and a 20% office vacancy rate.

Only government could come up with a silly proposal such as this. Too bad because I'd love to see it get built.
20% vacancy rate is true however, the main reason for the vacany is the high cost of space in the office market. Building more office space can lower the cost of the space and attract more businesses in Boston. Also, there are already many proposal for reisdential high-rises in Boston. There is the 800ft Gateway Center which is mainly use as residential but is consider mix-used with shops on the bottom floor. Gateway Center can house thousands of people because it consist about a total of 8 residential high-rises.

There is also the 31 story Park Essex which will finish this year and the 30 story Kensington right next door that is slated to break ground this year. Other residential + mix use complex is the 425ft 101 Clarendon, the 336ft mix-use The Clarendon down the street and the 415ft Nashua Street Residences. All three slated to break ground this year. The 30 story 45 Province Street is going to be mainly residential tower is also slated to break ground this year. There are also the proposal of a 40-story residential tower over Filene's that also have strong backing by Menino and a possible twin 30 story residential tower at down the street at Lafayette Place. So there's no worry about residential crisis with this bright future.
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Old February 21st, 2006, 08:07 AM   #29
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^ Yea the Boston residential scene is exploding pretty big at the moment...pretty much everything going up in Boston right now is residential. The reason they gave for building such a scraper was b/c they're expecting the office market to rebound greatly within the next few years.
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Old February 21st, 2006, 09:24 PM   #30
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Wow, 20%? That sounds high. I guess with the low supply, prices have skyrocketed. Hopefully this will be followed by even more supply.
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Old February 22nd, 2006, 01:25 AM   #31
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Boston's office vacancy rate is not 20%. It's 11.7%.


Boston's Office Market Bounces Back

By Beverly Ford
December 20, 2005


BOSTON - For the first time in five years, the city's office market experienced its first resurgence in leasing activity in 2005 with more than 1.6 million sf of positive absorption, a report released by CB Richard Ellis/New England found. The office vacancy rate in Boston, which has about 66 million sf of office space, dropped to 11.7 % with just two weeks left in the year, declining 1.5% from 13.2% at the end of 2004.

David Fitzgerald, executive vice president and partner with CBRE/New England, tells GlobeSt.com that 2005 marked a turning point for Downtown Boston's commercial market. He says the turnaround is due in large part to the growth of both new and existing companies, increased tenant demand and a continued flight to quality by businesses seeking to capitalize on rental rates.

Fueling the demand, says Fitzgerald, was the growth of small to mid-sized companies which helped tighten the city's overall inventory and pushed up the average rental rate slightly from $33.02 to $34.38 per sf. The conversion of two million sf of office space to residential also constricted availability, he notes.

The report, which covered Boston's Central Business District (Charlestown, Fort Point Channel, Midtown, North Station/Waterfront, South Station, Dorchester, Allston-Brighton/Longwood and Fenway/Kenmore Square neighborhoods) also found there was more than 2.5 million sf of gross leasing activity and more than 200 transactions in the city last year. Of that activity, more than a million sf was sublease space that was either leased, taken off the market or had terms expire.

While every area of the city benefited from the resurgence, Fitzgerald says the Back Bay and the CBD benefited the most. The Fort Point Channel area and the Leather District and South Station areas also showed considerable improvement. The strong demand for office space has benefited owners as well as the tightening market forced the average rent up slightly from $33.02 per sf to $34.38 per sf.

Rents continued to remain strong in high-rise office space in the city's class A towers as well where asking rents have increased to the low $50s per sf and in some cases reached the low $60s. Conversely, rents for low-rise space has remained flat, averaging between the high $20s and high $30s per sf. Companies also rushed to complete deals for discounted rates before the market cycle turned and rents increased, according to the report.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 04:07 AM   #32
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Probably one of the rarest type of article you ever find in Boston but here it goes. From today:

Size matters, even in Boston
By Paul Restuccia
Wednesday, February 22, 2006



So Mayor Thomas M. Menino wants to put a 1,000-foot skyscraper in the Financial District.

Good for him and great for Boston.

He’s coming around to the idea that his city is a dynamic place and deserves a tall building that’s an architectural landmark.

It’s a strong counter to the long-held attitude among many folks that Boston should be a city of stumpy towers clad in brick, reddish granite or tepid glass panels that either reaffirm our traditional building materials or reflect them.

Writing about the issue of building height in Boston several years ago, I was amazed at how antithetical so many in the city are to tall buildings. Height has long been a dirty word among the city’s neighborhood watchdogs and activists, who have long preferred stretches of 12-story buildings to one soaring tower.

The antipathy to height is so ingrained here that even when the Columbus Center project - with a 35-story signature tower - was proposed in the so-called High Spine area where tall buildings are allowed, all that was heard was the hue and cry about ruining the delicate “scale” of the surrounding neighborhoods. Never mind that the 60-story John Hancock Tower is about 100 yards away.

No one is suggesting putting a 1,000-foot skyscraper on Marlborough Street, and that’s as it should be. But tall, slender towers built in strategic places in the city are a good idea. They create visual landmarks and, when well-designed, have an uplifting effect on our civic pride.

Yet building height, in the minds of some neighborhood watchdogs, is synonymous with greed: rapacious developers who want to inflict more luxury housing on the city. Someone ought to remind them of greed when they put their brownstones on the market for a three-fold gain.

Another common refrain: Why have a high rise when you can have another park? Why not a row of faux 19th century brick row houses instead? Or, it can go 12 stories but make sure it’s stubby and clad in brick.

All this antipathy to height goes under the rubrick of “community process,” where tall building designs are stunted or silenced altogether. Watchdogs and activists killed a masterfully designed 55-story tower planned over a barren stretch of the Pike along Mass. Ave. as though it were some horrid civic affront.

No doubt there is NIMBY-ism to the anti-height fervor, but even worse are the BANANAS - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

Here’s a message for those who’ve bought in our city’s historic districts - well-placed and well-designed high-rises can complement buildings of previous centuries. European cities do this well.

Trying to replicate the admittedly outstanding design of the Back Bay or the South End in today’s buildings is reactionary folly.

If developers do get any height, it’s often at the cost of what can best be termed civic extortion - at Columbus Center some $40 million of goodies - everything from the requisite parks to cut-rate parking for aggrieved nearby residents.

And tall buildings often come out of the process with a "design-by-committee” look - proportions stunted, materials mismatched or muted, or a crown placed on a tubby king. It’s as though not allowing a skyscraper in Boston to climb beyond the rest of the skyline represents some sort of twisted civic victory. In fact, it can actually represent the worst kind of civic defeat.

Let’s hope Mayor Menino will stand firm in his convictions and allow Boston, for once, to soar to new heights.

And please, no brick.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 04:23 AM   #33
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Those spires seem to be making the building taller than it actaully is. Does anyone know the height of the top most floor? Anyways, this is still going to a great addition to the boston skyline. I wish more governments were this involved with skyscraper construction.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 09:05 AM   #34
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Is he downtown Tom? High-rise idea hit
By Scott Van Voorhis
Thursday, February 23, 2006


Has Boston’s self-proclaimed neighborhood mayor gone downtown?

That’s what some critics are charging in the wake of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s stunning plan for a new, 1,000-foot-high skyscraper that would be the tallest tower ever built in Boston.

The 12-year mayor likes to play up his efforts to promote housing construction in the city’s neighborhoods. And many give Menino credit for years of energetically promoting new housing construction, from Dorchester to the downtown business district.

But some say that Menino’s legacy, when all is said and done, could be overshadowed by such outsized endeavors as the city’s convention center in South Boston and a roster of downtown luxury high-rises.

“I find him much more of a downtown mayor,” said Fenway activist Kathleen Devine.

The new tower, which would rise more than 70 stories, is just the latest big development plan Menino has gone to bat for, critics say. Millennium Partners set the stage a few years ago for a new wave of New York-sized development with its twin Ritz-Carlton tower complex on the edge of Chinatown.

And the biggest projects have yet to come. Longtime mayoral friend Joseph Fallon is preparing to break ground on a $1.2 billion mix of office, hotel and condo high-rises at Fan Pier on the South Boston waterfront.

Some suggest Menino’s latest big development plan was at best ill-timed, coming amid a neighborhood crime crisis and a never ending housing cost crunch.

“What he thinks is that Boston needs a pointier skyline. That the skyline is not pointy enough,” said Shirley Kressel, head of the Alliance of Boston Neighborhoods. “I don’t understand the problem he is trying to solve.”

Lydia Lowe, head of the Chinese Progressive Association, credits City Hall for trying to harness a surge in high-rise development to meet affordable housing and other goals. But she said that very same development can be a threat to a neighborhood like Chinatown in the path of such high-rise expansion.“There just seems to be a big emphasis on big skyscrapers,” she said.

Still, Mark Maloney, head of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, noted that the builder of the tower will be required to make substantial jobs and housing payments to city coffers. And Menino just raised the rates.

“The mayor continues to be the (premier) affordable housing mayor of the country,” he said.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 09:08 AM   #35
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Tower plan draws worldwide calls
By Scott Van Voorhis
Thursday, February 23, 2006


Would-be tower builders from across the world are responding to Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s call for a new skyscraper that would be the tallest ever built in Boston, a top city official said yesterday.

Mark Maloney, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, said developers from as far afield as Europe and Asia have called to seek information on Menino’s tower plan.

Menino has called for proposals to build what could be a 1,000 foot skyscraper - one that would soar above even the Hancock Tower - now considered the city’s premier office tower.

Moreover, real estate companies from San Franciso to New York have also signaled interest, Maloney said.

“We have phone calls from around the world,’ he said.

The flood of interest comes as City Hall prepares to put up for bid next month a city-owned parking garage in Winthrop Square in the heart of the Financial District.

City officials envision a slender, soaring tower on the acre-sized site, one that may combine housing with corporate offices, Maloney said.

The overall size could be “well in excess” of 1 million square feet, and possibly approach the 2 million square foot mark.

While overseas and big national developers are likely to look at the deal, more than one local player may be poised to make a strong run.

A potential key player is Hub travel magnate and sports team owner Steve Belkin, who owns a neighboring office building and has long contemplated a skyscraper project of his own on the city-owned site.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 11:07 PM   #36
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I LIKE MUCH. A GREETING FRIENDS.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 11:19 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neggbird
Those spires seem to be making the building taller than it actaully is. Does anyone know the height of the top most floor? Anyways, this is still going to a great addition to the boston skyline. I wish more governments were this involved with skyscraper construction.
That picture isn't a rendering, just ane example. I don't expect to see actual renderings for months.

I would think a safe bet in this project (as it currently looks) would be the actually building would be around 900ft and the spire(s) would add another 100-150.

They're still talking with developers all over the world as I understand, so I assume in the coming months that we'll see some good renderings.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 09:36 AM   #38
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I like Boston skyline
The coolest city in the US
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Old February 26th, 2006, 04:19 PM   #39
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impressive, really tall.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 05:23 PM   #40
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Really cool. Also, in the middle of the cluster. Great!
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