58-story Back Bay tower approved
Boston regulators on Thursday approved construction of what will be the city’s tallest residential building, a 691-foot condominium and hotel tower that will rise at the edge of the Christian Science Plaza.
The 58-story building, at the corner of Belvidere and Dalton streets, will add another major peak on the high spine of the Back Bay and bring thousands of new residents and visitors to one of the city’s most celebrated landmarks.
The 950,000-square-foot development also includes a 25-story tower with 255 apartments; both buildings will have retail and restaurant spaces. Construction is scheduled to start early next year.
“Our goal is to build a landmark project that is best in class in quality of design,” said Richard L. Friedman, president of the project’s master developer, Carpenter & Co., which also developed Boston’s Liberty Hotel and the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. “These two buildings will be transformative in that area of the city.”
During a Boston Redevelopment Authority meeting Thursday night, a long line of stakeholders spoke in favor of the project. No one spoke against it.
In total, the project will include 425 residences, 170 of which will be condominiums, and about 250 hotel rooms. Its lead architect is Henry N. Cobb, who designed the nearby John Hancock tower in the 1970s. Principals of his firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York, also designed the Christian Science Plaza and its signature reflecting pool.
The 691-foot building in the new Christian Science development is crafted in the shape of an equilateral triangle with rounded corners, a form designed to complement the adjacent Christian Science mother church. It will be about 100 feet shorter than the Hancock Tower, which is the city’s tallest building at 790 feet.
Cobb said the project will fill a void between some of the Back Bay’s most significant properties.
“Right now, the Christian Science Plaza and the Prudential Center sit next to each other, but don’t talk to each other,” said Cobb, a Boston native. “This project will be a new connection and bring this very important part of the city to life.”
The Christian Science complex is one of several major projects expected to significantly reshape the skyline.
Construction has already begun at the site of a 625-foot residential tower in Downtown Crossing, and another developer this week proposed a a series of tall buildings in front of the TD Garden, including one that would top out at 600 feet.
Also expected is a towering redevelopment of the Government Center garage, an aging facility considered by many to be an architectural blight.
The garage would be replaced by six new buildings that would feature office, retail, and residential space.
Other large buildings are already under construction from the South Boston Innovation District to the Fenway and Jamaica Plain.
Also Thursday, the BRA approved several large housing projects, including a 323-unit development of a former MBTA bus yard on Bartlett Street in Roxbury. That project, which is expected to include a grocery store, shops, and offices, will be constructed in several phases.
The burst of residential development in the city will jump-start Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s push to build 30,000 housing units in Boston by 2020. On Monday, Menino released a new blueprint to reach that goal, emphasizing that the city’s housing stock must become more affordable for the middle class, older residents, young professionals, and families.
Menino’s aides have said repeatedly in recent months that they will act swiftly to approve large housing projects and other developments as long as neighborhood concerns are satisfied. The mayor’s impending departure has spurred a flurry of project filings, with developers trying to lock down permits before a new administration takes over.