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Old 02-11-2010, 01:19 PM   #21
palindrome
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

From the Herald.

Quote:
Liberty Mutual will expand headquarters, add jobs
By Thomas Grillo
Thursday, February 11, 2010 - Updated 2m ago

Liberty Mutual is planning a 25-story building to expand its Back Bay headquarters and add 600 new permanent jobs, city officials said today.

?Putting people back to work is a top priority,? said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. ?Creating new jobs - 600 permanent and 500 construction jobs - as local unemployment numbers are at an all-time high is my focus. Liberty Mutual and the insurance sector represent a $3.2 billion industry that is critical to Boston?s economic growth.?

Last year, the insurance giant purchased the former Salvation Army offices and the Benjamin Franklin Smith building in the Hub for $23.5 million. The company, the only Fortune 100 firm headquartered in Boston, employs 4,100 workers in the Bay State with 2,500 in Boston.

A Liberty Mutual spokesman said the company is exploring its options for the two parcels, but Menino said they plan to build a $300 million headquarters expansion that will generate $50 million in tax revenues over the next two decades. Previously the two purchased properties were tax-exempt.

Working with the state to stimulate the economy, the city is utilizing Tax Increment Financing to generate the 1,100 jobs and spur revitalization. A TIF allows the city to provide a property tax exemption for a portion of the new value created by the project. The exemption, worth $16 million, would phase in over 20 years as the new property is developed. The agreement must be approved by the City Council.

?Liberty Mutual?s expanded and integrated downtown Boston campus can?t come soon enough for our residents who work in the building trades,? said John Palmieri, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. ?With unemployment rates up to 50 percent in parts of the construction industry, we must find ways to put these men and women back to work.?
http://www.bostonherald.com/business...ome&position=7
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Old 02-11-2010, 01:21 PM   #22
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

Next September, 2011.

In the end though they'll come to their senses and realize the cost and hassles associated with new construction and doing business in Boston in general isn't worth it and they'll expand elsewhere. I'd give this the same odds as Columbus Center.
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Old 02-11-2010, 01:36 PM   #23
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

The 25 story building will be reduced to 10 in no time.
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Old 02-11-2010, 02:28 PM   #24
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

Its design is probably too understated to generate much passion, but I think the Salvation Army building is quite attractive, and it'd probably be more loved if it weren't for the desolate surroundings.

Still, every time I've walked by it I've thought, "boy it's nice, but I can't picture it being there much longer."



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Old 02-11-2010, 02:54 PM   #25
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

Given this is Boston, I'm guessing we'll get the cheapest, dullest insta-kit design there is.

But this building would lend itself well to a Hearst Tower-style build-out. You've got a fairly nice-looking Art Deco building that clearly isn't maximizing its space potential. Put a glassy tower on top, keep the base, and you could have a nice result. (Plus you'd get the bonus points of blocking out views of Liberty's butt-ugly headquarters nearby.)

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Old 02-11-2010, 03:21 PM   #26
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

/\ Ditto /\

I'm the first to speak out against parasite-type buildings or face-ectomys but this is actually one building that I think would work well as a base.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:23 PM   #27
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

^I was thinking of something similar (shorter version of the MoMa Tower on top of the building was where my mind was, but you get the idea). I think this is a perfect location for it. Of course, the opposition will be fierce and this is Boston. The last year (a little longer) has given us very little reason to be hopeful. Still, it's a nice thought.

I'm sure that if they really plan on construction starting next fall they have renderings on hand and already know which direction they're going. However, I may consider sending them some ideas and the Hearst Tower ranks right up there. The efforts will prove fruitless, but it can't hurt.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:24 PM   #28
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnAKeith View Post
Why can't anything good ever happen without something bad gumming it all up?

A $16 million property tax break?

WHY?
John, you cannot be serious. Would you prefer that Liberty not build anything at all? Or perhaps move their people to Waltham or another suburb with a plethora of unused office space? Also, the direct and indirect additional spending that will come of this completely outweighs a tax break of $16 million that would never have existed otherwise. If Boston does not give incentives for businesses to stay here or relocate here, there are plenty of other cities that will.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:25 PM   #29
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

I've often thought that the Salvation Army building was a good base for something that ought to be 20 stories taller, especially if it has real windows.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:30 PM   #30
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

For some context, the John Hancock (Sr.) building ACROSS THE STREET is 26 stories (minus the spire). I figure there will be NIMBYs coming out from the Bay Village to oppose this but it looks like the city really wants this so it might sail through review.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:44 PM   #31
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

The unions involved in construction are going to be starving soon. Plus Liberty has fat wallets and probably has plenty of political conections. I see this one getting pushed through by the Boss.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:52 PM   #32
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

Agree with Van. The fact that the Mayor seems to have been personally involved in cutting a deal definitely helps. And given that the site is flanked by Hancock Sr and the W (only 3 blocks away) gives me hope. Naive, foolish, vulnerable hope.

Anything the builds out that parking lot between the Salvation Army and Flash's will be a welcome addition. (Pretty good beer selection at Flash's btw).
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Old 02-11-2010, 04:04 PM   #33
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

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Originally Posted by Lrfox View Post
However, I may consider sending them some ideas and the Hearst Tower ranks right up there. The efforts will prove fruitless, but it can't hurt.
I bet if you could Photoshop a nice image of the Salvation Army as a base with a glassy building on top (more W Hotel than Hearst -- Liberty is a pretty big company, but I don't see anyone bringing Sir Normie in for a fancy tower here, alas) and send it to Bostonist, UniversalHub, Boston.com, the Herald, etc., it might gain some momentum.

Or then there's the idea that sometimes gets floated of this site taking a more proactive approach and putting its stamp of approval on things. It's a messy idea, but we could have a "design competition" for this building and let forumers vote on their favorite design. Might catch the media's attention...

If nothing else, that attention could put a few good ideas in the public view and sway the NIMBYs to use their power constructively and focus on the quality of the built environment rather than rant about shadows.
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Old 02-11-2010, 04:32 PM   #34
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen
I figure there will be NIMBYs coming out from the Bay Village to oppose this but it looks like the city really wants this so it might sail through review.
Don't forget about the Stuart Street corridor master plan from last year. This plays into that rather nicely.
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Old 02-11-2010, 05:56 PM   #35
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

Of course I'm against public subsidy of private enterprise. Always have been, always will be.

This, at least, is less egregious seeing as it simply reduces the amount of (expected) future property tax payments, unlike other tax "incentives" such as the $1 billion life sciences giveaway, the film "tax" credit program ($750 million and counting), and the Columbus Center and Fenway Center public donations funds.

Six months ago, the mayor and every single city councilor said they were passing the "most painful city budget ever" and that there was no choice but to cut, cut, cut.

Yeah, about that ...

Also, they say there will be 600 new permanent jobs ... in a 30 story building? There's going to be 20 people per floor???
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Last edited by JohnAKeith; 02-11-2010 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:11 PM   #36
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

Well, the 30 floors will probably be full of people moved from other offices.
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:43 PM   #37
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

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Originally Posted by kz1000ps View Post
Don't forget about the Stuart Street corridor master plan from last year. This plays into that rather nicely.
Are you referring to my master plan?
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:47 PM   #38
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

I feel as if I've hijacked this thread, so I'm going to step away from my computer, but a final post.

Here are portions of the EOA application that will be used to apply for the tax abatement. (I'm not clear on how it actually works - is there real money involved, does the company get a check to apply against tax bills or does it just submit paperwork every year?)








BTW, the BRA contacted me about ten minutes ago to remind me that this, of course, just a proposal:

Quote:
Should they receive approval on their TIF, they will need to submit their proposed project to the BRA. It will go through Article 80 review, which does include a community review process. If they successfully complete that process, it will go to the BRA Board for approval.
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Old 02-11-2010, 08:59 PM   #39
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

All of this would be much better news if Liberty Mutual were agreeing to be the anchor tenant of a larger project that, say, filled a parking lot or helped knock down a garage downtown. Instead we get potentially more destruction of Boston's fine grained urban fabric for a probably stubby tower.
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:20 PM   #40
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Re: Liberty Mutual plans major Boston expansion

agree!^
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