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Old 11-29-2012, 02:23 PM   #1
vanshnookenraggen
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What to do with the Financial District

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The Empty Quarter

But behind its solid granite walls Bostonís downtown is resoundingly hollow, with vacancy rates near a 15-year high, at 14 percent, which translates to 5 million square feet of empty office space. Law firms and financial houses have deserted this commercial core in droves for livelier neighborhoods like the Back Bay and the new South Boston waterfront, and the trend shows little sign of reversing. The Financial District, constructed as a temple to money, is now being undone by the very free market it has long celebrated.
http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articl...strict-boston/
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:28 PM   #2
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

The retail spots being built into 185 Franklin are a start.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:34 PM   #3
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

Easy, apartment conversions. BAM! PUT ME IN CHARGE!
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:43 PM   #4
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

If they converted older buildings and built new ones along the Greenway it might actually turn that joke of a median strip into an active park space.
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:59 PM   #5
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

Unfortunately I don't think the vacancies will all be conveniently located along the Greenway. This is going to be a long-term problem. Who is going to want to be the pioneer resident on Federal St.?

The shame is that this shift to the "uptown" commercial district didn't occur 100 years ago as it did in Montreal, and the Financial District can't be rebranded "Old Town Boston", at least not until superblock PoMo construction comes to be considered quaint.
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Old 11-29-2012, 05:01 PM   #6
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

Meanwhile, the Back Bay is starting to suffer. The former Stefanie's space is apparently being marketed at $125 a foot. How much is retail commanding in the Financial District?
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Old 11-29-2012, 05:48 PM   #7
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

Maybe we'll see 888 Boylston start before the end of the decade.
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:08 PM   #8
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

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Who is going to want to be the pioneer resident on Federal St.?
*Raises hand*


The pre WWII stuff you could make a mint off simply exposing the beams and refinishing the floors. People are paying 400k to live in Porter 156, a 1910 three story bra factory with not all that redeeming architectural qualities. It's in a meh area of Eastie that overlooks the airport, is just outside of comfortable walking range of the few of the good things over there, and features a hellish walk across a windswept park to the blue line in the winter.

The newer stuff would take some more marketing, but its still in the heart of the city. In fact, this could be the solution to Bostons housing issue. Since the buildings are already paid for and standing there loosing money, the conversions could be modest and allow more of an average joe to be able to afford to live downtown, versus a new building that has to be luxury to pay for itself, or the older residential buildings that are expensive because they have always been that way. In fact - isn't that how citys are supposed to work? The new stuff is expensive and where the rich live, while the less well off live in the hand-me-down buildings?


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Maybe we'll see 888 Boylston start before the end of the decade.
Honestly I hope not. Other then the heinous wall of the Hynes, that plaza is probably the only successful elemet of the Pru's original landscaping. The lower courtyard is always in use, the farmers market there is pretty cool, they have outdoor seating now for the new restaurant that just opened up in the Hynes, and the view of the tower from there is incredible.
The upper courtyard needs some help, but with a renovation to better tie it into the food court, allowing egress through there in the winter, and redoing those absurd stairs (anyone who's walked them knows what I'm talking about) it could be successful as well.
There would have to be a very substantial building proposed to have a net gain by building on that plaza, and the linked project isn't it.

There's a lot more developable space in the Pru complex, as well as the adjacent Pike parcels, that should be built on before the plaza. This is the same issue I took with 319a st rear: things that work are being demolished while literally surrounded by a sea of garbage. THIS is what the BRA should be working on: helping developers build their projects where it is good for the city as a whole, instead of worrying about fucking shadows.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:53 PM   #9
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

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with a renovation to better tie it into the food court, allowing egress through there in the winter
Are the doors locked in the winter? If so, it's probably to keep cold air from rushing into the food court. Fixing that would require adding an 'airlock' (second set of doors).

Further discussion of this should move to the Prudential thread.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:16 PM   #10
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

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Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articl...strict-boston/The Empty Quarter

But behind its solid granite walls Bostonís downtown is resoundingly hollow, with vacancy rates near a 15-year high, at 14 percent, which translates to 5 million square feet of empty office space. Law firms and financial houses have deserted this commercial core in droves for livelier neighborhoods like the Back Bay and the new South Boston waterfront, and the trend shows little sign of reversing. The Financial District, constructed as a temple to money, is now being undone by the very free market it has long celebrated
From what I hearing and experiencing is that the commercial office market in outlying areas like the seaport is growing quite a bit faster than the traditional financial district, BUT, vacancy rates are stable in Financial District after bottoming out last year and asking rents are creeping up again.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:57 PM   #11
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

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Since the buildings are already paid for and standing there loosing money, the conversions could be modest and allow more of an average joe to be able to afford to live downtown, versus a new building that has to be luxury to pay for itself, or the older residential buildings that are expensive because they have always been that way.
Take one look at the Financial District in New York and you'll see that most of the old skyscrapers converted to housing have been almost exclusively high end luxury condos and rentals. The average Joe isn't going to live there, it's the financial YUPies.
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:55 PM   #12
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

This. Also, the process of converting buildings to residential in Lower Manhattan (and luring anyone to live there) has been incredibly slow. 9/11 and Sandy aside, it's hard to attract residents without services and services without residents, so the people who choose to live there tend to prize being close to work over everything else.
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:57 PM   #13
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

The problem is there's nothing to do and no services so you have to build buildings full of amenities.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:19 AM   #14
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

Boston's financial district is nowhere near as isolated as Manhattan's when it comes to nearby amenities. I think the refrain that nobody wants to live there because there's nothing there is just patently false. Am I the only one who thinks that it's the best located point in the entire city?

- Either roll out of bed to work, or one-seat reverse-commute ride to anywhere the T goes

- 5 minute walk or less to DTX - we often malign this area, but don't overlook the fact of good restaurants and even a couple independent bookstores

- 5 minute walk or less to Chinatown / Theater District

- 5 minute walk or less to Quincy Market - touristy, yes, but better than the Galleria if you need a couple of new shirts

- 10 minute walk or less to the North End

- 10-15 minute walk to Seaport

The only amenity really missing is a supermarket, but that's true of everywhere not in walking distance of the Prudential Shaw's.

Are there blank streets with nothing on them? Yes, but that's true of roads like Stuart Street in the Back Bay as well.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:38 AM   #15
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

I imagine the floor plates of the FiDi towers make residential conversion tough. Some of those buildings have 20K-30K square floor plates. That means you end up with a lot of 2,500SF 1-bedroom apartments.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:51 AM   #16
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

New Whole Foods going into the Ink Block will be pretty convenient to anyone living Downtown. Until then, Whole Foods in the West End and the Shaws at the Pru are a short train ride.

Seriously though, I think this is a short term trend. Business is getting pulled away to spots in Cambridge and the Seaport, but that'll level out at a point. Converting to residential could ease the housing crunch a bit, but might not be needed long term.

The idea that no one wants to live down there is a little weird though. We've got people living in DTX, the Waterfront, the Leather District, and Chinatown. Living in the FiDi is just filling in them middle, and not a really large middle at that.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:26 AM   #17
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

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Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
The problem is there's nothing to do and no services so you have to build buildings full of amenities.
There are plenty of eateries and stores in the financial district, they just close early and on weekends. If there were a residential base in the area they would easily extend their hours. Also, depending on where in the FiDi you are, you're minutes from either DTX, Chinatown, Faneuil or Ft. Point which does have plenty more amenities.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:27 AM   #18
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

There are also some good casual-quick eating spots that go beyond Subway/Panera/Rebeccas. I'm thinking of places like Foumami, Bostone Pizza and Milk Street Cafe. I think all these places now are closed by 4, but I'm sure that a nearby building or two of residential could convince them to stay open later.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:32 AM   #19
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

Bisnow has a different spin on this: http://www.bisnow.com/boston-real-es...ts-big-bounce/
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:28 PM   #20
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Re: What to do with the Financial District

I have a tough time seeing Copley Tower getting built at their proposed height after reading that article on how successful the Backbay has been. I see the Tower getting chopped down to 500ft
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