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Old 09-26-2007, 02:01 PM   #1
statler
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Proposed Shreve, Crump & Low Redevelopment | 334-364 Boylston Street | Back Bay

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Originally Posted by Bankers & Tradesman
Site May Prove to Be A Jewel in the Rough
New Building to Replace Former Shreve, Crump & Low; Possible Uses Include Luxury Condos, Class A Offices

By Thomas Grillo
Reporter


B&T staff photo by Thomas Grillo
The Shreve, Crump & Low building at 330 Boylston St. may be
razed to make way for offices or luxury condominiums.

The art deco building that housed an upscale jeweler on Boylston Street could become the next site for luxury condominiums or Class A office space.

Ronald M. Druker, president of The Druker Co., which owns the Shreve, Crump & Low building across from the Boston Public Garden, could not be reached for comment. But City Councilor Michael Ross, who has been briefed on the proposal, said the 5-story mid-rise is expected to be replaced by a new building.

While details of the project have not been filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the city?s planning and development agency, Ross said whatever is built on the site will be in keeping with the company?s reputation for construction that is sensitive to the neighborhood.

?Ron Druker has done development in that area and knows what it means to build near the Public Garden,? said Ross, who met with the developer recently to discuss the project. ?He?s done it before and done it successfully and he has an understanding and respect for the Back Bay neighborhood.?

But not everyone is convinced that Druker will listen to neighbors.

John Herbert, past president of the Ellis South End Neighborhood Association, said the group was shut out of discussions for Druker?s Atelier|505. The mixed-use development adjacent to the Boston Center for the Arts, at Tremont and Berkeley streets, opened two years ago with 103 units of luxury condominiums, shops and restaurants.

?I?m not sure who to blame ? Druker, the BRA or the BCA ? but it was clear that none of them wanted our input,? Herbert recalled. ?We wanted to participate in planning the building because we had a number of suggested improvements, but Druker had his agenda and the BCA had theirs and neither wanted to hear from anyone. It was very difficult.?

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino told Banker & Tradesman that Druker?s proposal is ?interesting.?

?What I saw fits the zoning guidelines in that neighborhood,? Menino said. ?It has some steps to go, but it certainly looks like a product that will meet the muster of the community. The plan will have to go before the community before it?s approved.?

Druker?s Boston-based real estate company is known for its large, urban mixed-use projects. In addition to Atelier|505, the company has completed the Heritage on the Garden, an upscale complex on Boylston Street that features residential, retail and office suites across from the Public Garden. In 1971, the firm built the Colonnade Hotel on Huntington Avenue.

?Vulnerable? Buildings

Timothy Mitchell, an architect who lives and works in Boston?s Back Bay, said residents are sure to be concerned about the height of any building at the Shreve location. With height comes shadows, he said, that could be cast onto the Public Garden, lower Boylston Street and Commonwealth Avenue.

?When you think about how the sun moves, a tall building there on this low-rise Back Bay neighborhood will not only put homes in the dark but historically significant buildings are also vulnerable,? he said. ?And that would certainly change their architectural significance.?

Susan Prindle, chairwoman of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay?s Architecture Committee, said she met with Druker a year ago when he wanted to build an office tower at the Shreve site. But since then, the two have not spoken, she said.

Prindle was one of three dozen residents who petitioned the Boston Landmarks Commission last fall to designate the Shreve building as a landmark. In its 10-page request, neighbors argued that the 103-year-old building is a ?rare example of an early 20th century eclectic style that combines themes from several historic styles into one.? The 5-story Shreve does not overshadow its neighbor, the Arlington Street Church, or the Public Garden, according to the document. The architect, William G. Rantoul, was well known for his many luxurious homes and estates, the residents wrote.

In addition, the group cited the storied jeweler?s history, noting that Shreve, Crump & Low is America?s oldest jeweler. Founded in 1796, the first store was first located at Washington and Summer streets. In 1929, it moved from Downtown Crossing to 330 Boylston St. in the Back Bay.

But the commission rejected the application. The panel noted that the petitioners could file for landmark status again if they found further evidence of the building?s significance.

The proposal comes as several projects are in the works for the Back Bay and the Prudential Center. The Clarendon, another luxury condominium and apartment tower, is under construction near the John Hancock Tower. In addition, the 13-story Mandarin Oriental Boston hotel is scheduled to open next year next to Lord & Taylor on Boylston Street. The $230 million project will add 168 guestrooms and the property will be part of a mixed-use complex with first-floor retail and condominiums on the upper floors.

Another proposal that has not yet been filed with the BRA yet is a new tower at Copley Place. The Simon Property Group is considering a mix of condos and retail uses in front of the Neiman Marcus store at the corner of Stuart and Dartmouth streets. At the other end of the Back Bay, Berklee College of Music has discussed plans for a high- rise dormitory in the neighborhood.

Earlier this month, Boston Properties and Avalon Bay Communities filed plans for a $192 million proposal that calls for a 30-story residential high-rise on Exeter Street across from the Boston Public Library and construction of an office building at 888 Boylston St., adjacent to the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention.

Some members of the Prudential Project Advisory Committee (PruPAC), a group formed in the 1980s by former Mayor Ray Flynn to advise City Hall on development proposals in the neighborhood, already have expressed concern about the height and density of the Prudential Center initiatives. While PruPAC has encouraged construction of the residential tower on Exeter Street, some members are asking whether a high-rise across from the library makes sense for the historic neighborhood.

Mark Slater, president of the Bay Village Neighborhood Association, said he is concerned that all new construction of condominiums is reserved for the very wealthy.

?I?m not sure what the city needs is another vertical gated community,? he said.
Thank God! Boston has far too many "early 20th century eclectic style" buildings. What we really need is more poorly built, faux-brick and pre-cast concrete panel buildings. Let's get moving on this.
Idiotic shadow & density arguments aside, this seems like a nice building. Might be a good candidate for adaptive reuse.

Last edited by statler; 11-08-2007 at 01:29 PM. Reason: Fixed Headline
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:10 PM   #2
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I'd hate to lose that facade. Can't we keep it somehow?
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:42 PM   #3
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YES.

Like to see the building/facade saved, but the rest of that block is largely abandoned and worthless buildings. A prime target for some redevelopment.
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:51 PM   #4
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Agreed with everyone so far ... I've never understood why this block seems so run-down.

Lets keep this building as-is ... (reusing the inside) and work with building up/replacing some junk in the middle of block.
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Old 09-26-2007, 05:54 PM   #5
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^^^^^^^^^^^

Easy to say but what if the owner doesn't want to sell his "junk?"
I imagine that Druker probably has plans to include the existing facade in whatever he's planning to do with that building but will build upwards in order to get a decent return on his investment.
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Old 09-26-2007, 06:57 PM   #6
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Keep the facade, since work like that simply isn't done anymore. It would look wonderful if it got a little sandblasting done.

Tear the other shit down, and build someting cool. Apple Store cool. Like, keep that facade, then continue it with a frost-glass wall. Just one, big frost-glass wall on the street, with stainless fittings to label retail on street level. But make it warm. Not sterile-hospital frost-glass. I think I need to draw a picture, but I have a vision right now.
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atlantaden
^^^^^^^^^^^

Easy to say but what if the owner doesn't want to sell his "junk?"
I imagine that Druker probably has plans to include the existing facade in whatever he's planning to do with that building but will build upwards in order to get a decent return on his investment.
Absent eminent domain, yeah, but the opportunity to sell to a large developer at what will likely be a huge premium would be a big incentive.
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Old 09-26-2007, 10:51 PM   #8
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It all has to go ...

No reason to save any of it.

Start off fresh, add an impressive building to the corner, give it some life, put some retail on the first floor.

BTW, whatever happened to the plans to open a Dunkin' Donuts on that block.

And another thing, didn't Druker buy the Ladies Garment building (or whatever it is) several years ago? Someone did, and they were going to move out (or have they, already?).

Hmmm. Who owns the rest of the buildings on that block.

On a related note, Mark Slater of the Bay Village Neighborhood Association is an idiot.
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Old 09-26-2007, 10:56 PM   #9
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Old 09-27-2007, 04:20 AM   #10
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Re: It all has to go ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimboJones
add an impressive building to the corner
Nice in theory but it will never happen.

Can you name one building built in the past 10 years that even comes close to the quality and craftsmanship of that building?

As they say, they just don't build'em like that anymore.

I will 100% guarantee you whatever goes up on that parcel will be a downgrade over what is there now. Unless you happen to like faux-brick, pre-cast concrete panels, plywood and superglue.
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Old 09-27-2007, 05:54 AM   #11
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I'm betting the facade will be saved. Look only at the Dainty Dot building as to whats allowed and whats not, when it comes to preserving streetscapes.
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Old 09-27-2007, 08:16 AM   #12
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I'm all for saving the facade for this building too, as many have already pointed out the craftsmanship and period details are excellent. However, if done poorly, a historic facade with a modern building stuck on top, could look terrible on this site (just look to Russia Wharf for an example). A repeat of RW would be disastrous.

But aren't architects supposed to use creativity to solve problems? This could be a great opportunity to create something terrific, but alas, the economics of modern development almost never support creativity. If demolished, we'll probably end up with some pre-cast beige crap. And if preserved, the addition on top of the original facade will have pre-cast beige crap. So why not just renovate, reinvigorate, put in a restaurant or shop on the ground floor and be done with it?
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Old 09-27-2007, 08:20 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeTaureau
But aren't architects supposed to use creativity to solve problems? This could be a great opportunity to create something terrific, but alas, the economics of modern development almost never support creativity. If demolished, we'll probably end up with some pre-cast beige crap. And if preserved, the addition on top of the original facade will have pre-cast beige crap. So why not just renovate, reinvigorate, put in a restaurant or shop on the ground floor and be done with it?
Quoted and bolded for truth.
Well stated.
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Old 09-27-2007, 05:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeTaureau
I'm all for saving the facade for this building too, as many have already pointed out the craftsmanship and period details are excellent. However, if done poorly, a historic facade with a modern building stuck on top, could look terrible on this site (just look to Russia Wharf for an example). A repeat of RW would be disastrous.

But aren't architects supposed to use creativity to solve problems? This could be a great opportunity to create something terrific, but alas, the economics of modern development almost never support creativity. If demolished, we'll probably end up with some pre-cast beige crap. And if preserved, the addition on top of the original facade will have pre-cast beige crap. So why not just renovate, reinvigorate, put in a restaurant or shop on the ground floor and be done with it?
In agree-ence. The period detail on the facade is amazing, and if preserved would look incredible. I have this wicked good idea and I sketched it out, if I had some site measurments (just really basic ones) I could do something on cad at school, but it includes saving the facade, and a lot of glass.
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Old 09-27-2007, 05:50 PM   #15
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I'd like to see an exchange program where a developer rehabs these old small scale, irreplaceable buildings and in return is given an air rights parcel over the tpike to build a hi rise on. That would retain the city's character and be good for everyone although there would be some complaints I'm sure.
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Old 09-28-2007, 08:47 PM   #16
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Frank Gehry

When this was talked about earlier this year Frank Gehry was the architect. Druker has Menino is his back pocket so anything can happen, on the other hand I think Ducker does care about the city so he may do a nice job.
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Old 09-29-2007, 10:17 AM   #17
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Frank Gehry, eh?

I could go for a low- to mid-rise Gehry there, assuming a smallish building could make economic sense on that plot. I wouldn't necessarily want a ton of his blinding titanium or chrome (I'd prefer the Back Bay skyline not be too distracting while you're in the Common/Garden), but I have faith he would realize that and tone it down on the architectural bling.

Something in the spirit of his recently completed InterActiveCorp Headquarters in Manhattan would be amazing here.
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Old 09-29-2007, 10:57 AM   #18
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I think something similar to his DG Bank in Berlin would work very well here. Most of his stuff is just too busy for that site in front of the sacred public garden. But in Berlin, he solved the problem of building in front of something more important (Brandenburg Gate, in that case) by putting all the craziness on the inside and leaving the facade relatively simple. The result was a very effective building that works in its surroundings but is still uniquely Gehry.
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Old 10-04-2007, 08:56 PM   #19
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I would like to have this building saved. It's a bit of a pastiche: beaux art with an art deco first story facade and store interior. FYI I bumped into a couple of guys with clip boards the other day and asked what Mr. Drucker was going to do with the building. They were there as agents looking for someone to rent the property....so it appears that short-term, at least, the building will remain as is.
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Old 10-12-2007, 02:23 AM   #20
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Shreve building's days may be numbered
Developer planning new stores, offices at site in Back Bay

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | October 12, 2007


Developer Ronald Druker is planning a new office and retail complex for the site of the Shreve, Crump & Low building at Boylston and Arlington streets in the Back Bay, a sentimental favorite that some Bostonians want to preserve.

Druker wants to tear down the 103-year-old Shreve building on the corner and three others he owns on Boylston Street, including the Women's Educational and Industrial Union building. He would replace them with "a landmark for the next century or beyond," he said yesterday.

Druker was reluctant to discuss details before he submits formal plans to the Boston Redevelopment Authority. But he acknowledged the plans call for building to the maximum height allowed, at least 90 feet.

A year ago, about 30 city residents petitioned the Boston Landmarks Commission for a hearing to designate the Shreve building, erected in 1904 as the Bryant and Stratton Commercial School for women, as a landmark. That would have protected the facade, with its elaborate Art Deco portion, added when Shreve moved in around 1930, and an original decorative cornice.

But the commission voted against even holding a hearing, saying that the architect was not particularly significant and that, while the building has local importance, it lacks renown be yond Boston.

To be designated a landmark, a building must have "historical, social, cultural, architectural, or aesthetic significance to the city and the Commonwealth, the New England region, or the nation," executive director Ellen J. Lipsey wrote, in turning down the petitioners' request in October 2006.

In July, the Landmarks Commission voted, after a hearing, not to give landmark status to the Dainty Dot, an old industrial building on the edge of Chinatown. Developer Ori Ron plans to build a residential tower there, retaining a few exterior walls, but neighbors are continuing to push for preservation of more of the structure.

Shreve, Crump & Low, established in 1796, for decades was the place where the Yankee elite shopped for jewelry, silver, and gifts to celebrate the high points of their lives.

Shreve has moved a block away, to the corner of Boylston and Berkeley streets, and is operating after being bought out of bankruptcy.

Its former building is empty but remains important, said Tim Ian Mitchell, an architect and spokesman for the group of Boston residents who want to save it.

Besides wanting to preserve the work of the architect who added the ground floor decoration, Mitchell said, the group believes that "Shreve's has made outstanding contributions to the cultural, social, and economic history of New England."

"For luxury goods, it was the place of choice for families of wealth," he said.

Although it is not unprecedented for groups to try to make their case a second time, Mitchell said he would wait to see what Druker proposes before deciding whether to continue to fight for the building.

"With Mr. Druker, there's some possibility he can actually bring something to this part of the city that will be noteworthy and significant," Mitchell said. "I couldn't say that for everybody."

Druker developed the Heritage on the Common residences and more recently the Atelier | 505 condominiums in the South End.

The Arlington Building, as it was known, actually extended to the east in the early years, when a railroad station occupied the area and separated downtown from the Back Bay. Part of the complex was amputated when Arlington Street was extended, and the wall along Arlington was extensively reconstructed, with new windows, to make it consistent with the front, at 330 Boylston.

"That advance of connecting Boston, making the transition from sleepy little town to modern urban center, was really significant," Mitchell said.

Druker, a third-generation builder in Boston, said merging the new and the old usually doesn't work well.

"A new building well executed by a local developer who cares about the city, designed by a fine architect, will be far better than to create a 'facadectomy' that is not good architecture or good design," he said.

"The Arlington Building is a nice building," Druker said. "It is not, however, a landmark. Lincoln didn't deliver the Gettysburg Address there."



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