Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Seaport Square Coverage

There's a couple of articles in the Herald about the Seaport Square development. It's nice to see a developer with some vision who's encouraging a mixed-use neighborhood with residential, cultural, and educational components as an integral part of the plan. Hopefully he's serious and there's a real plan for how to stage part of each element concurrently. As we've seen with other developers (Tony Goldman), a few years after a grand plan is unveiled, it can be put aside and replaced with office building after office building.

Seaport: One-stop living
Hynes’ plan mixes work, home, school
By Scott Van Voorhis | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | | Business & Markets

Seaport Square developer John Hynes is offering companies a sweet package deal: rent office space in his development and get housing for your employees and even seats in a private school for their children.

Hynes yesterday pulled the wraps off his 20-block Seaport Square project, which would take shape on a tract of windswept parking lots just across the street from Fan Pier on South Boston’s waterfront.

The veteran tower developer kicked off a series of meetings with South Boston residents and groups to win crucial neighborhood support for his project.

But Hynes is also preparing to sell his $3 billion project to a global audience, one made up of corporate executives weighing the merits of different cities for their next expansion.

And the Hub developer believes, by offering housing and a school along with corporate suites, that he has the formula to bring some of these companies, and their high-paying jobs, to Boston.

“You can’t get that anywhere in the world,” Hynes said. “It obviously promotes our project and second, it helps promote Boston as forward-thinking and open for business.”

Under Hynes’ proposal, a company looking to rent office space in his project would likely have to pay the current market rate, about $70 a square foot. But for another $8 a square foot, Hynes said, for example, he could throw in 100 apartments. Add another $3 per square foot, and he will throw in tuition at his project’s showcase private school for the tenant’s employees’ children.

The Hub developer says he can offer this “one-stop shopping” because of the wide-ranging nature of his Seaport Square plan, which includes 2,500 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space and a 1,500-student private school run by a private company, Nations Academy. In a new twist, there would also be a public school, an “early learning center” for preschool through grade one children.

Still, Hynes first has to win over his neighbors, including the owners of the Barking Crab, a waterfront eatery the developer has proposed relocating into his project.

“We are more steamed than one of our lobsters,” said Barking Crab spokesman George Regan.

Regan contends the eatery was not properly consulted before the developer went public - a claim Hynes vigorously denies.


Seaport plan calls for moving chapel, eatery

By Scott Van Voorhis | Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | | Business & Markets

A sweeping $3 billion redevelopment plan for South Boston’s waterfront includes relocating two harborfront landmarks: The Barking Crab restaurant and a historic fishermen’s chapel.

Developer John Hynes plans to formally unveil his Seaport Square redevelopment plan tonight in a meeting with South Boston residents.

Hynes envisions converting what’s now some 22 acres of windswept parking lots across from the Moakley federal courthouse into a new neighborhood of 5,000 residents.

Hynes, the son of TV newscaster Jack Hynes and grandson of legendary Boston Mayor John B. Hynes, is proposing 6.5 million square feet of development - the equivalent of four Hancock Towers.

Plans call for everything from hotels and condos to office high-rises and a school.

Hynes hopes to break ground on the project later this year.

That’s welcome news to industry observers, who’ve feared the troubled economy and national credit crunch would stop new Hub projects.

“It’s a very ambitious goal, and all of us welcome any developer who wants to move forward in a timely manner,” said Vivien Li, head of the Boston Harbor Association.

Hynes wants to relocate the Barking Crab to the first floor of a planned 35-unit condo building, complete with cafe-style seating in front.

He’s also in talks over a deal to move a longtime fishermen’s church, the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Voyage, to a nearby site that now is a parking lot.

Hynes wants to use the church’s current site for an 18-story office high-rise, while the Barking Crab’s location would become part of the existing HarborWalk.

“What we are interested in doing is getting those smaller projects out of the way and (tackling) the bigger projects in 2009,” Hynes told the Herald.

Still, getting one or both landmarks to agree to move is no easy task.

Barking Crab owner Scott Garvey said he’s not ruling anything out, but added that the eatery enjoys its current waterfront perch.

“We really think the Barking Crab is unique and . . . something of a landmark,” Garvey said. “We don’t want to take that away from the city. But obviously, things are changing here.

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