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BRA Approves 94-Unit Multifamily Project at 135 Bremen Street

21 Nov 2014, 8:21 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

For decades East Boston was known as a gritty, underdeveloped area in the city’s Innovation District. But as new developments started accommodating a wave of businesses in the area, “Eastie” turned into a promising neighborhood for real estate developers and investors.

135 Bremen Street - East Boston

135 Bremen Street – East Boston

One of the several construction projects waiting to kick off in the neighborhood is a $19 million apartment community between Gove and Porter Streets and off the East Boston Greenway. The project was recently approved for construction by the Boston Redevelopment Authority and will be built by 135 Bremen, LLC—a joint venture between real estate developers Joseph Ricupero and Michael Merullo.

Located at 135 Bremen Street and close to the MBTA’s Maverick Square Station and Logan Airport, the apartment complex will be built on 36,000 square feet of underutilized commercial land which is currently occupied by mid-rise vacant buildings and an open parking lot. According to project plans, 135 Bremen is expected to breathe new life into an industrial corner of Bremen Street and accommodate the housing needs of Eastie’s diverse and growing population.

Designed by Charlestown-based Neshamkin French Architects Inc., the project calls for a six-story structure of approximately 127,000 square feet. The U-shaped building will have 94 apartments, including 12 affordable housing units in accordance with Boston’s affordable unit policy, as well as 8,300 square feet of ground-floor commercial space that will include at least one restaurant/retail operator.

What makes 135 Bremen unique among other housing developments in this section of East Boston, where parking is always a concern, is the fact that it includes a relatively large parking facility. As detailed in the Project Notification Form, the apartment building will have a two-level underground garage with 126 parking spaces and 100 bike racks to encourage bicycling as a sustainable mode of transportation. The parking garage will also have a non-stop bike repair station.

According to project plans, construction at 135 Bremen is scheduled to start in fall 2015 with a completion date set for the end of 2016. The project will create more than 50 jobs during construction.

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Rendering courtesy of 135 Bremen, LLC via BRA

Boston’s Castle Square Apartments, Shattuck International House Awarded ENERGY STAR Certification

16 Nov 2014, 6:20 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

In order to highlight Boston’s commitment to innovation, sustainability and green building, two affordable housing communities in the city were listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) among the first multifamily housing properties in the nation to earn new ENERGY STAR multifamily certification for superior energy performance.

Castle Square Apartments - Boston

Castle Square Apartments – Boston

The 17 apartment and condo buildings across the country were recognized by EPA as top performers in reducing energy use, increasing affordability, protecting public health, and combating climate change. “Communities, renters and businesses all benefit when multifamily properties operate more efficiently,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “When these buildings use less energy, they also prevent greenhouse gas emissions, increase comfort, and lower costs for renters, making it a win-win for the environment, public health and the economy.”

Located at 476 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End neighborhood, Castle Square Apartments is an affordable housing community built in the 1960s and owned by Castle Square Tenants Organization in partnership with WinnDevelopment, the real estate development arm of WinnCompanies. Castle Square Apartments includes four mid-rise buildings and 19 town houses totaling 500 units of affordable housing, as well as 20,000 square feet of retail space.

In June 2012 the 540,000-square-foot community completed the nation’s largest Deep Energy Retrofit on an existing affordable housing community. As previously reported by MHN, the $8.18 million renovation process took over two years to complete and resulted in energy savings greater than 70 percent thanks to a super insulated shell installed on the outside of the building, an insulated reflective roof, high efficiency windows and extensive air sealing, and an array of additional energy efficient amenities. Six months after the renovation project was completed, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Castle Square Apartments LEED Platinum Certification, which is the highest green building rating.

Shattuck International House - Boston

Shattuck International House – Boston

The second Boston property recognized by EPA is Shattuck International House, a residence owned and managed by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). Shattuck International House comprises three interconnected buildings located at 199, 203, and 207 Park Drive. Envisaged as a housing complex for HSPH’s graduate students and their families from the U.S. and abroad, Shattuck International House consists of a mix of one- and two-bedroom units totaling 70 apartments. The complex, which was built in 1920, has a long history with Energy Star certifications. Back in 2007 it was the first residence hall in Boston and one of the first dormitories in the country to earn an Energy Star Label and has kept this high standard ever since, striving to improve energy efficiency by improving lighting, heating and ongoing outreach to residents. According to EPA, all computers at Shattuck House have power management software enabled and residents are encouraged to shut them down when they’re finished using them. Furthermore, residents receive period emails with a “Green Tip of the Month” sent by the Harvard Green Campus Initiative.

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Images via Castle Square Apartments and HSPH

Parking Garage Nearly Complete, Two More Office Buildings Planned at Former Parker Brothers Site in Beverly

8 Nov 2014, 3:34 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Roughly 28 miles north of Boston, the 54-acre property that once served as the home office of the legendary game companies Parker Brothers and Atari is going through major changes.

Cummings Properties, a commercial real estate development firm based in Woburn, acquired the site known as 50 Dunham Road for $2.3 million from Wight & Company in December 2011. According to an official statement, the property, which was built in 1976 and included only one office building, was nearly vacant at the time. Cummings started renovating the 103,000-square-foot office structure shortly after the deal was closed. The renovated building, which displays commemorative signs and artwork that honor the history of the two game manufacturing companies, is now 85 percent leased to several firms, including Dessange International and Microline Surgical which occupies around 54,000 square feet of space.

Dunham Road Parking Garage

Dunham Road Parking Garage

Furthermore, in mid-2013 Cummings secured approval from the Beverly City Council to build a second, 120,000-square-foot building on the site, as well as a multi-level parking facility for 475 cars, which is nearing completion. According to a prepared statement, the five-story garage has been topped with 832 solar panels that generate more than 320,000 kWh of clean energy each year to power the existing structures on Dunham Road, as well as future buildings. The final stage of construction at the five-level parking structure calls for the creation of enclosed bridges that will allow clients and visitors to walk from the garage directly into a planned mixed use building.

48 Dunham Road

48 Dunham Road

As reported by the Salem News, Cummings plans two more structures at the site. The company has already poured the foundation for a five-story commercial building at 48 Dunham Road, but the rest of construction will start sometime in spring next year and only after Cummings finds an anchor tenant for the space. “The plans are largely complete, but we will build out the interior to suit,” said Dennis Clarke, president and CEO of Cummings Properties. “This is an ideal opportunity for a company to have a facility that is truly tailored to its needs.” At 144,000 square feet, 48 Dunham Road was designed to accommodate office or lab uses and will offer energy-efficient construction, Class A interior finishes and modern design features.

Plans for a second building at 52 Dunham Road, immediately east of the renovated Parker Brothers headquarters, are currently under review with Beverly city officials. According to the news source, 52 Dunham Road will rise five stories above ground and will encompass approximately 150,000 square feet of space.

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Renderings courtesy of Cummings Properties

Former MBTA Rail Yard in Hyde Park to Come Back to Life as Light Industrial Work Spaces for Small Manufacturers

31 Oct 2014, 10:01 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

As Boston has been more and more focused on redeveloping vacant or derelict industrial sites to create offices that would accommodate a solid growth in tech- and science-based jobs, the inventory of properties zoned strictly for industrial uses across the city has declined drastically over the past years.

Readville Yard 5 in Hyde Park - project rendering

Readville Yard 5 in Hyde Park – project rendering

Earlier this year industrial real estate developer First Highland Management and Development Corporation filed plans to redevelop a 21-acre parcel located at 8 Industrial Drive in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood and known as “Yard 5.” In late October the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approved the redevelopment of the site, which is adjacent to the MBTA’s Readville commuter rail station. Work on the project is scheduled to start in March 2015.

Readville Yard 5, as the project was named, will consist of six buildings of various sizes totaling approximately 375,000 square feet that will include light-industrial, manufacturing and office spaces, as well as 250 parking spaces and covered spaces for 89 bicycles. The site, which is bounded by privately owned warehouses and industrial properties along Industrial Drive to the south, the Dedham, MA municipal line to the west, private residences to the north along West Milton Street, and Sprague Street to the east, was acquired by the MBTA in the late 1980s to serve as a mid-day layover and train storage yard for its expanding commuter rail fleet. In 2011 the MBTA completed an extensive environmental cleanup of the site, and in October 2014 the transportation authority sold the site for $2.36 million to First Highland.

Readville Yard 5 in Hyde Park - development site

Readville Yard 5 in Hyde Park – development site

The six buildings (A, B, C, D, E and F) will vary in size as to maximize the construction potential of the site’s triangular shape. According to the developer’s plans, buildings A through E will stand five-stories tall and will feature around 50 light-industrial and manufacturing units ranging from 4,000 to 7,000 square feet each. The three-story building F will be located close to Sprague Street, on the eastern portion of the development site, and will include 42,000 square feet of office space.

Designed by Utile, Inc. Architecture + Planning of Boston, the industrial project will be completed in two phases. According to The Boston Globe, the site infrastructure and two buildings that will house several manufacturing units will be constructed in 2015, while work on the three remaining structures is scheduled to start in March 2017 with a completion date set for February 2018.

Readville Yard 5—which will create around 100 temporary construction jobs—is expected to support the manufacturing industry in this area of Boston, where properties zoned for small industrial uses are scarce, and attract a variety of small businesses while supporting the creation of long-term jobs in the neighborhood.


Renderings via BRA

Walsh Administration: Boston’s Growing Population Calls for 53,000 New Housing Units by 2030

12 Oct 2014, 1:53 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

In an effort to accommodate an estimated 20 percent increase in the city’s housing stock over the next 16 years, the Walsh administration has come up with a new housing plan for Boston.

Boston 2030- Sources of New Housing Production 2

Boston 2030- Sources of New Housing Production 2

Called “Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030”, the plan comes one year and a half after former Mayor Thomas M. Menino launched “Housing Boston 2020,” an ambitious plan to add 30,000 new housing units in the city by the year 2020. Now, the new strategy advanced by Mayor Martin J. Walsh aims to create 53,000 new units of housing largely built by private developers—of which 20,000 will be affordable, targeting residents with incomes between $50,000 and $125,000—at a variety of income levels across the city as the Hub is expected to welcome around 91,000 new Bostonians by the year 2030. “Boston is growing, and I am committed to making sure that the prosperity Boston is enjoying reaches every neighborhood and every Boston resident,” Mayor Walsh said in a statement. Any person who wants to contribute to making Boston better should be able to live and succeed here—regardless of their income level, race, or physical ability,” he added.

Boston 2030 - Demographics of New Housing Production

Boston 2030 – Demographics of New Housing Production

“Boston 2030” also calls for a 50 percent cut in the total number of students living in off-campus rented apartments by building 16,000 new student housing units. By adding these new dorms, around 5,000 units of middle income housing will become available in several neighborhoods across Boston. Furthermore, the city plans to build 5,000 new housing units targeting senior citizens, while another 4,000 units will be constructed to create a vacancy rate that will help stabilize the market and bring rent prices under control.

The new strategy also calls for loosening zoning restrictions in certain areas of Boston, providing more incentives that will support the construction of taller buildings and alleviate development costs, as well as a better use of City-owned land.

While “Boston 2030” comes with a hefty price of $21 billion that will cover both public and private construction projects, with developers expected to pay more for luxury developments in downtown or select outlying neighborhoods for their new housing projects. Additionally, the plan is expected to create over 50,000 construction jobs by the year 2030.


Charts courtesy of the Official Website of the City of Boston 

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