Business

Developer proposes plan for buildings near Faneuil Hall

A rendering of Related Beal’s proposed redevelopment of the former Fidelity Investments buildings on Quaker Lane in downtown Boston.
Arrowstreet
A rendering of Related Beal’s proposed redevelopment of the former Fidelity Investments buildings on Quaker Lane in downtown Boston.

A Boston real estate firm is proposing to redevelop a drab cluster of office buildings near Faneuil Hall into a more modern commercial complex with restaurants, stores, hotel rooms, and residences.

The plan by Related Beal would retain a large amount of office space in four buildings off Congress Street formerly owned by Fidelity Investments. But it would also line the street with boutiques, outdoor cafes, and other outlets to connect retail districts in Faneuil Hall, Downtown Crossing, and Post Office Square.

Related Beal released the broad outlines of its redevelopment plan Monday, promising to update and reinvent an acre of buildings along Water, Devonshire, and Congress streets. The new complex, to be called Congress Square, still needs approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

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“Our plan is to rejuvenate the entire block through a mixed-use redevelopment strategy,” said Stephen Faber, executive vice president of Related Beal. “These buildings and this location present us with the opportunity to . . . create a real destination.”

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An investment fund run by Related Beal bought the century-old buildings from Fidelity for an undisclosed sum in December 2013. The properties — 40 Water St., 68 Devonshire St., 19 Congress St., and 15 Congress St. — contain 343,000 square feet of office and retail space. Fidelity still occupies the buildings but is scheduled to begin moving out by the end of this year.

Related Beal’s proposal calls for some additional development on some of the parcels. A new midrise building would be constructed at 54 Devonshire and a multistory addition could be built on top of 15 Congress, which is likely to be converted into residential property, according to Faber.

The centerpiece of Related Beal’s plan is the redevelopment of Quaker Lane into a new retail magnet that would fill the void between Faneuil Hall, Downtown Crossing, and Post Office Square. The street, now a quiet alley between Congress and Washington, would get a mix of restaurants, stores, and other attractions.

The buildings are being reimagined with the help of the architecture firm Arrowstreet. CBRE/Grossman Retail Advisors and JLL will handle the leasing efforts.

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“The heart of the project will be integrating Quaker Lane with the surrounding buildings and turning it into an urban oasis of outdoor seating, food, and entertainment — a surprising transformation given it is just an alley today,” said Scott Pollack, principal of Arrowstreet.

Rosemarie Sansone, president of a business association devoted to improving Boston’s downtown, said the project would add to a string of new retailers and other businesses that have moved into the district in recent years.

“We’re seeing this activity unfold from one end of the district to the other,” she said, noting the construction on the former Filene’s block and at several other sites. “We still have a ways to go, but the transformation people have been waiting for is finally happening.”

The largest office building in the former Fidelity complex, 40 Water Street, will be renovated to help attract new tenants. When the work is finished, the building, which long served as Fidelity’s headquarters, will have new retail shops and a refurbished lobby, among other improvements.

Related Beal plans to seek permits for work on the entire complex, but the company will probably sell the Devonshire and Congress street buildings to another developer. The Devonshire buildings could host residential office or hotel uses, while Related Beal expects the Congress Street properties to be converted into boutique-style residential buildings.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.