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Developer proposes large development atop Back Bay station

Banker & Tradesman reports Boston Properties has filed a letter of intent with the BRA for a 1.4-million-square-foot mixed-use tower above the station, and that the company said it would help fund a solution for the diesel clouds that typically hover inside the station.

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Development over a major transit hub with superior highway access on a site that has been pegged for high rise development since the 1960's.

Nevertheless let's hear your complaints everyone. I'm sure people will have wonderful thought out reasoned arguments against this.

PS - Your view of the Hancock being blocked from your Pembroke Street roof deck is not a legitimate complaint.

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Residents at the Clarendon condos are sharpening their knives and primping their boat shoes as we speak.

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Boat shoes? Please. Maybe a spring weekend Back Bay, but even that would only be because a 30 something opened up a J crew catalogue.

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Didn't see your comment before I sent mine. Great minds and such...

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Good point! My brahmin anthropology knowledge is sadly lacking :(

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The joke was that there are hardly any Brahmins left in the city, but there are a lot of people who style themselves so.

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No, more like polishing their loafers.

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You sound way too aggressive about this. Calm down.

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No one here has even complained yet. Putting aside this development, not every neighborhood complaint about new development is unreasonable.

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Now how are the folks at the clarendon supposed to see the new tower over neiman marcus??? WHO WILL THINK ABOUT THEM?!?!

ps - build up, build out, build over the pike. the fact that there is any open air space above the pike between the BU bridge and the Ted Williams tunnel should be an embarrassment to Boston.

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Ah - the clueless chime in. There is no development over the pike because it's almost never cost effective to build over a 6 lane interstate without substantial state subsidies. The cost of the decking (not to mention what it might do to traffic for years at a time) rarely makes sense except for the largest of projects (such as Rosenthal's and even that hasn't been mentioned in over a year - my guess is the numbers aren't quite working. Nor am I hearing about traction/financing for the Neimann project).

This decking exists already - but like the Neiman project - probably won't be strong enough to support a project of this size. The advantage (I think) is that the garage at least sits on ground - not above the pike - so there are ways to engineer the building that cantilevers it over the Pike.

Most of the neighborhood (that I've spoken to anyway) thinks this is a good area for higher development - but not building to the sky. An appropriately sized building would be between the size of the Westin and Tent City on the other side - probably 30-40 stories. Supposedly the Neimann project couldn't make money that way - but you don't approve planning and development based off of what developers can make money off of - you do it based on what makes sense for the city and the residents and the immediate neighbors get a louder voice.

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Rosenthal's project is being held up because he is trying to milk more tax breaks out of the city because he knows it'll be a boon for real estate taxes and he is trying to maximize his position. and it is an embarrassment to have a supposed world class city so grossly bisected by a highway that should've been covered from the get go.

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Rosenthal already got his tax break - unless he's back for more. I know. I testified against it at a City Council meeting -and they promptly gave him a break - for a deal that stands to make him tens/hundreds of millions of dollars. Senseless waste of money for a city that claims to be perpetually broke (like a few million dollars is going to make a difference in a multi billion dollar project!)

Covering from the get go might have worked - doing it now is an outrageously expensive mess.

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Rosenthal is still running around asking for more taxpayer money and permission to make the project less ambitious. For an alleged millionaire John is always crying poor and asking for others to fund his projects and charities while he takes all the credit.

The only thing which will get built is the massive garage because the LMA and RedSox want to make their suburban clientele happy. It will not be an improvement over the existing view of the highway and the grossly over sized garaged will make traffic miserable on all the surrounding streets current at their maximum capacity.

The project as currently conceived is giant middle finger at taxpayers and residents of the Fenway neighborhood.

If Marty and Charlie had some good sense the building permits would be yanked and the air rights parcel put back out to bid to a competent developer known for a willingness to open their own checkbook.

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Rosenthal's project is being held up because he is trying to milk more tax breaks out of the city

Rosenthal's project was held up because idiot abutters sued him. Now he's been delayed, and surprise surprise, needs to find a way to round up more money because delays have costs. Welcome to Boston.

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That case was resolved years ago. Rosenthal doesn't want to spend any of his own money on the project and no investors are dumb enough to absorb all of his risk.

If he wasn't a suck up to the right politicians this project would be as dead as Columbus Center is.

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Yes, the Columbus Center project was abandoned years ago, but thanks for playing. It seems that since this project will be near the Rosenthal proposal that people dug their old opinions about that out of a drawer.

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This project is next to where Columbus Center was to be. It is a half mile from One Kenmore or Fenway Center or whatevertheheckthemarketingpeoplearecallingitnow

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Columbus Center failed because CALPERS was boned in 2008. It wasn't the logistics so much as that they lost nearly 100 billion when their portfolio imploded.

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I seem to recall the owner of the property teaming up with Dianne Wilkerson to get more state money when it turned out building a deck over the turnpike was going to be more expensive than first thought and the Patrick administration finally said no more and then Wilkerson got convicted and all and that was that.

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30 stories is laughably short for this location. We are running out of spaces where the city can build tall so putting another squat little tower here would be a waste.

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Can't remember the exact number but that was what the city, BRA and coomunity agreed was appropriate - after about 2 years of study. I think 350 -400 feet. Probably about 35 stories. Right now it's only a guideline. Work in progress to make it permanent zoning.

Where do you live? Lots of room for oversized towers in places like Brighton west rox, hyde park and dorchester. Build your 60 story towers there.

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Where do you live? Lots of room for oversized towers in places like Brighton west rox, hyde park and dorchester. Build your 60 story towers there.

That's reducto ad absurdum. 60 story towers are perfectly reasonable in this part of the Back Bay. Stop it.

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We are not an ATM for the rest of the city. Building tall is fine. Building to the sky is not. The city, local architects and the business community agreed to 35 stories or less for most of that area fairly recently.

It's the rule for now and may soon be law.

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Well if it's agreed to (debatable) and the law, then I guess that settles it; 35 stories is fine, but 36 or more is bad. Talk about something being facetious...

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Far more complicated than most can imagine. I know one of the architects on the committee who is well schooled in "Urban Form" - it's the study of making buildings "fit" within their environment - height is only one consideration - but it's also massing, setbacks and shape. Others are advocates for street level retail to generate activity. There were business advocates as well - who usually just push for bigger. The city is kind of the arbiter on the committee. One of the unique things about Boston is that we have very active full-time residents downtown - and I think that's something unique to the city we want to keep. One concern about building all these uber luxe towers is that they attract absentee owners. They don't even rent out the units - they just "park" money there to protect/hide it from their own governments. I've heard of buildings that are 2/3 empty most of the time - fortunately not many.

I do know that one of the deciding factors on the height limits (for the Stuart Street corridor - roughly from Back Bay Station up to the Park Square area) was to keep all buildings below 396 feet (I think) which is exactly the height of the shoulder/roofline of the Old Hancock building. The Old Hancock is considered important to the skyline and people deliberately wanted the Hancock (200 Clarendon - uggh) to stand out - recognizing the importance of IM Pei's work. Other buildings closer to the South End were supposed to scale down to the brownstones - so heights of 150-300 feet rule in those areas. An exception was made for the Liberty Mutual building - and that's way too long a story for here.

It's actually a very interesting process - and it worked well. Nobody got everything they wanted - but now we have several blocks where it was agreed to essentially double or triple the existing zoning. For now it stands only as a formal but technically unenforceable guideline. The city is reviewing whether or not to make it permanent. There are measures to make exceptions if needed - but in general once reasonable zoning is in place it gets harder.

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I've heard of buildings that are 2/3 empty most of the time - fortunately not many.

If it's going to be so empty (on a percentage basis), then that's all the more reason to build it taller, right? This way you get enough people (on a numbers basis) actually living there to support local businesses, provide pedestrian activity, etc.

Keep in mind that empty units are still generating local tax revenue that supports police, schools, and the like -- and doesn't require much in the way of city expenditures.

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Build them in your neighborhood. Personally my neighbors like living in the city where there is bustling activity. We want buildings for people who actually live here and participate in the community.

Our backyard is not an ATM for the city - although a lot of people seem to think that. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is not a formula for long term success.

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I've heard of buildings that are 2/3 empty most of the time - fortunately not many.

Name them. I'm serious. I'm tired of people claiming foreign money is being parked in Boston luxury towers when there is zero evidence of it.

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It's been written about and documented extensively in the globe and real estate literature. You are being ridiculous. Foreign money is absolutely speculating on local property and a presence and shaping the types of buildings being constructed and the prices. It's even more prevalent in the usual cities. You would have to be completely ignorant of real estate in the last 10 years not to understand that.

http://boston.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/tracy-campion-interview.php

You yourself can find more very easily.

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The city can and will attempt to make sure new comtruction fits with the surroundings. That some people think real estate is too expensive is not a reason to build out of character. Don't be absurd.

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If those 60 story towers come with transit access I'd write every public representative I have in support.

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As if those residents would all be using the T. No, it's just more congestion.

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I'm not sure why it's so hard to comprehend the idea that people who want to live in the middle of a major city are not trying to recreate the suburban lifestyle.

Yes, some of them will have cars, but many won't - there are alternatives these days (including, gasp, yes, the T).

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It all adds up and adds to congestion, it's not going to remove congestion or keep it steady.

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You want a city without congestion? It can be done. Let's turn Boston into another Detroit, with prairie everywhere!

You do realize that at one point, Boston had a population of 800,000, right?

For big cities, density, when done right, is a good thing. It means more jobs, more restaurants, more interesting people and things. Putting a residential tower atop a major transit hub would seem to be doing it right.

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When the population was 800,000 per capita car ownership was a fraction of what it is today, and people had much more neighborhood shopping within close distances to them, but that's besides the point. The comment was not meant to suggest a residential building shouldn't go there, but that the scale some commentators are asking for is not necessarily in the best interests of the city. The just build bigger without asking any questions demands that some people have here are ridiculous.

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Zipcar is still another car being driven on the road, by an individual as they were in the suburbs.

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It doesn't matter, it's more total congestion.

Zipcar is not a taxi, it's another car being driven around by an individual for whatever reason they want just like the suburbs.

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The foundations and support needed for a 60 story tower are going to be a lot more extensive than what one weighing half as much would be. I am not even sure you can build something that tall on decking, in an area that is landfill. The Hancock, for instance, has some damn deep pilings. Think of all the other issues involved with such heights as well: sway, wind [affect on others not just oneself], elevators, safety and evacuation, effect of natural disasters.

The important thing with density is not so much height, but having no setbacks and active, street level space. It's far more important what is going on on the ground floor of any tower than what is happening on the uppermost floors.

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In a site like this, they should go at least as tall as Hancock. Higher the tower, higher the taxes to the city, that Boston desperately needs for its schools and infrastructure. More housing and density is also better to stabilize the sky high real estate prices. 30-40 floor floor tower does not makes sense here.

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That's very naive. This would barely have an impact on local prices because of demand for investments from overseas and the types of housing this would create are not really meant for families.

Your comment about infrastructure makes no sense. Boston is not going to widen its historic roads which are already at capacity.

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Feel for the residents of the upper floors of the Clarendon. This massive tower will block the sun/view and I'm sure that's one of the selling points of those units when it was purchased.

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IMAGE(https://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/article-1300967207614-0b51086100000578-330784_636x336.jpg)

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gotta get those LOI in today or tomorrow in order to not be under the old inclusionary policy...

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terrible proofreading.
LOIs today or tomorrow to be under the old policy, NOT the new policy.
sorry about that...

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Um, yeah, the T will probably go for it (broke & incompetent),
but maybe not Boston. We don't need to emulate Manhattan,
as we don't need a skyscaper on every corner like certain
fools suggest.
Boston architecture still has character, unlike the gilded dungheap on the Hudson, and let's keep it that way. Hopefully
the current mayor is not in the pocket of those swinish self-thought " developers," (lower case d).

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... Then you need to accept higher density. Can't have it both ways. Either we build up or we turn into a city where only the very rich can live. Architectural character is nice, but it comes at a premium.

You decide. Do you want pretty neighborhoods full of rich people or do you want enough housing to balance supply and demand so we can maintain a middle class?

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You can have pretty neighborhoods and lots of middle class housing. This city is filled with low density areas outside the 5% of land mass that makes up downtown. Drive down almost any main street and all you see are retail stores. Build up 3-5 stories on these streets and problem solved for decades into the future even before taking on all the single family areas that need to be converted to townhomes. Building 500-1000 units of uber luxury amnually downtown will only get you so far.

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We are already close to those prices anyway. Destroying the cities character by overbuilding will have little impact on housing prices unless you can stop the overseas purchases and increasing growth of the city. It's unfortunate that new comers to the region don't appreciate how much more desirable Bostons existing architecture is compared to most other cities in this country. Boston is an expensive place to live because it's nicer.

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We don't need to emulate Manhattan, as we don't need a skyscaper on every corner

Do you have any idea how long it would take us to actually build a skyscraper on every corner? No, I think it's safe to assume you don't or you wouldn't bring up this insane concern.

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If you want affordable housing in Boston than every 1 or two story building along major thoroughfares and MBTA corridors needs to be built up into 3-5 story apartment buildings like one sees in European cities and needs to do so very quickly. The Back Bay was built in a very brief span of time. Boston could replicate that again in the current market if only there was the political and societal will to do so.

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Has Jj been to Manhattan? Building 1 or 2 or even 20-30 high rises is not emulating Manhattan. To become Manhattan, we need build thousands of high rises. You need to get out of Boston and travel for a change.

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There are fewer than 250 high rise (ie >40-story) buildings in all of NYC. Derp.

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The Case-Shiller housing price index now has Boston House Prices higher than they were at the peak of the 2006 housing bubble. That is nominal prices.... not inflation adjusted prices.

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"the company said it would help fund a solution for the diesel clouds that typically hover inside the station."

Unless that solution is banning all diesel engines from operating through Back Bay*, it's not going to fix the problem.

This is, of course, assuming that the promise of a "solution" doesn't evaporate like every single other patchwork fix attempt in that disgusting gas trap did. I'm holding my breath - but only because I can't stand the atmosphere!!

* This only requires the purchase of dual-mode locomotives that can switch between diesel and catenary power, and to extend the wires from the Worcester Line junction out to Yawkey Station. Of course, it'd be preferable by far to electrify the entire rail network inside of 128, but... baby steps!

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Smoke evacuation system to automated self washing HEPA filters = no more problem. All the carbon funk is sucked out of the area, filtered from the exhaust air, and washed out of the filters down the drain where it essentially becomes dirt at the sewage treatment plant.

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