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IN PROGRESS: Columbus Center

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2nd new hihrise proposed near hancock building. Coluimbus center ~35 stories is permitted already I think.

Second Hard Rock project in works

By Scott Van Voorhis

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Another high-rise residential building is planned for a Back Bay site next to the Hard Rock Cafe - but the builders aren't saying just how high they want it to be.

Developers Robert Beal and Ken Himmel are hammering out a proposal for as many as 250 apartments, 125 to 150 condos, a marquee restaurant and a more casual eatery as well on the site off Clarendon Street, spokeswoman Pam McDermott said.

The upscale project, named The Clarendon, is expected to change the city's skyline, though how radically remains to be seen. Beal declined to comment or give a height range for the project, other than to say it would fall below a 35-story hotel and residential tower proposed for a nearby Massachusetts Turnpike air-rights project.

Beal and Himmel hope to file plans for their project next month or in May, McDermott said.

Neighborhood activists, meanwhile, say they are watching closely how the project takes shape.

While supportive of adding housing to part of the city that needs it, Back Bay activists say they hope the developers will cap the project's height at 15 stories.

Another high-rise building by the Hard Rock cafe, near the proposed 35-story Turnpike tower, could funnel winds onto Clarendon Street.

``Our concern is that the height be pushed back from Clarendon Street so we don't get the wind tunnel effect,'' said Susan Prindle, president of the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay.

However, in a move that may quell some concerns, Beal and Himmell plan to leave 131 Clarendon St. - the Hard Rock's home - out of their development plans.

To keep the project set back from the bustling Back Bay street, the developers have agreed to buy the nearby Post Office on Stuart Street, McDermott confirmed. So the planned project can take shape on the Hard Rock's surface parking lot and the adjacent Post Office site.

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This building will be within walking distance of so much culture and so many different places like the new Atelier 505 and Copley Square that this would be one of the best buildings in the city to live.

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Sounds like great news for Boston!

There's only one thing I don't like about Boston: NIMBY's. They're everywhere!!

While supportive of adding housing to part of the city that needs it, Back Bay activists say they hope the developers will cap the project's height at 15 stories.

:rolleyes: There's a need for new housing in the city, & they go and complain about buildings being too tall. It is in the city...cities have density & tall buildings.

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I used to live in the apartments above the YWCA across from the Hard Rock. It is a stunning area to live in. You're right at the entrance to the South End, but also steps from the library and the green and orange lines. Walking downtown is a snap. Everything you need is right there (especially with the new Shaws at Prudential, I used to shop at Wallaston's on Tremont). Restaurants, nightlife... It's amazing. 15 storeys... they could fill 50 storeys of residential there, no problem.

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ColumbusCentre.jpg

A legacy to straddle Pike

By Thomas Keane Jr. | Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Big projects are rare in Boston. The few proposed - the development of the South Boston waterfront, for example - are argued over for so long that circumstances change and they lie dormant. Projects we call big - such as Millennium Place in the one-time Combat Zone - may be significant in impact but in fact occupy relatively little territory.

Indeed, think big in Boston and two projects come to mind: Government Center/Charles River Park, built by ripping down the West End in the 1960s, and the Big Dig, an exhausting saga whose story still continues.

Here's a third: Columbus Center. Outside of a small circle of planners and local activists, it's been little noticed and little discussed. That's about to change. Construction begins in July.

For a private project, it's huge, costing $500 million and covering seven acres. Moreover, it's being built atop the Massachusetts Turnpike, stretching from Clarendon Street all the way to Tremont Street by Bay Village. If you know your way around Boston, you understand what this means. The Pike divides sections of the city - and is ugly, to boot. A decent project has the potential to knit together neighborhoods, effectively transforming the area to the same degree that the burial of the central artery has transformed the downtown.

Or not.

Columbus Center is hardly Boston's first air-rights project. The most recent, Copley Place, was built more than 20 years ago. Yet while Copley may have good facilities - a mall, two hotels and office space - it is aloof and unconnected to the area around it, a failure of urban design.

Columbus Center strives to be different. Almost an acre's worth of parks will meander its length. It's largely residential, with one hotel and a good amount of retail (a grocery store and other service-oriented shops).

Where Copley Place has few doors open to the street, Columbus Center will have more than 35, making it pedestrian- and street-friendly.

The architecture and feel varies by block. There's a 35-story tower by Clarendon Street. Farther east are town homes and lofts of only four to six stories. Columbus Center will look less like one project and more like a series of smaller buildings that mesh with existing infrastructure.

None of this came easily. Developers Arthur Winn and Roger Cassin first proposed a version back in 1997. Over 140 community meetings and $20 million later, the resulting project has one fewer tower, covers two more parcels and is, frankly, better than it was. Even so, four members of an 11-member review group opposed it and the project remains on the receiving end of much grumbling.

Nevertheless, the approvals and the money are in place. Of the $500 million needed, $150 million is equity - unusually high in real-estate. The remainder will be debt, all but $25 million of it private (that piece will be from the state as part of the project's commitment to provide 15 percent affordable units). Cassin expects the financing to close in May.

By July 2006, the Pike will be covered. A year later, the first units will be for sale; by 2008, it should be done.

Cassin's pleasure seems to extend well beyond the prospect of making money. He walks through renderings, pointing out a day-care center here, a little pocket park there. He loves the way a 600-space garage was made nearly invisible by surrounding it with residences. He pretends to lament being ``forced'' to build a park on the easternmost parcel. Cassin and Winn have been behind significant projects before, including the redevelopment of Mission Main and the planned Clippership Wharf in East Boston. Yet this is different. More than just another development, it's a legacy.

From The Boston Herald

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Building on the Pike

After a decade of planning, the $624m Columbus Center is about to break ground. Its hotel rooms, parks, stores, and condominiums will rise above a four-block section of the turnpike, holding the promise of connecting two estranged neighborhoods in the heart of Boston -- the Back Bay and South End.

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff {sodEmoji.{sodEmoji.|}} March 19, 2006

http://www.boston.com/business/globe/artic...ng_on_the_pike/

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I used to live across the street from what will become Columbus Center. It's really a great area save for the big ditch the Pike goes through. Columbus Center is going to make this one of the most vibrant areas of the city and serve to reconnect the South End to the Back Bay.

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Turnpike signs lease for major development over Boston roadway [Boston.com]

The project includes:

- a 35-story building with up to 162 residential units and a hotel with up to 162 rooms;

- an 11-story building with 151 residential units and a public park;

- a 7-story building with 134 condominium units and a street level grocery, day care center and parking garage;

- three public parks.

The project will create an estimated 350 permanent jobs and 2,000 construction jobs.

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Well....they may have found a funding solution....maybe. The Globe reports that they may have found ways to close the financing gap from two state agencies.

Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board member Tom Trimarco said the agency is considering letting WinnDevelopment defer payment of large portions of the $12 million in lease payments that the company owes in exchange for an increase in the amount of those payments. The Turnpike owns the air rights over the highway.

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This thing is making noise again. article

Hub developer Arthur Winn and his investors, as they look to get the $700 million Columbus Center project into construction, are applying for tens of millions in low-cost government financing.

Winn

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In the Boston Courant, it said that the deck over the Mass Pike would take nearly 2.5 years to build, so it will be a while before we see much verticle promise....still, I'll be excited to have it capped.

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In the Boston Courant, it said that the deck over the Mass Pike would take nearly 2.5 years to build, so it will be a while before we see much verticle promise....still, I'll be excited to have it capped.

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Was walking home from a bar last night after watching the Sox game in Boston, and went past the Columbus Center construction site. Attached to the fencing was this reassuring sign:

get-attachment.jpg

At least, I felt reassured (at 2am after a few drinks, it doesn't take much). :P

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