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Developers pitch plans for Back Bay parcel over Pike

Peebles Corp. proposed a $330 million complex of residences, hotel rooms, and retailers.handel architects and Utile Inc.

As a development site, the state-owned property at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street has its problems. The land is hemmed in by an MBTA station and divided by the open scar of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

But that hasn’t stopped developers from dreaming big.

Three companies on Friday submitted proposals to build large complexes on the 50,000-square-foot lot, across from the Hynes Convention Center. The pitches include a curvy, 11-story building with residences, a hotel, and stores, as well as a 21-story complex with shops and 350 apartments.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will select a winner in the coming months. The redevelopment would create a new entrance to the Back Bay and help enliven a disjointed section of the otherwise bustling neighborhood.


The winning bidder will also be required to overhaul the MBTA’s Hynes Convention Center stop on the Green Line. Transportation officials want to relocate the entrances to the station, modernize its layout and architecture, and add elevators and new turnstiles, among other improvements.

The state’s property, known as Parcel 13, is one of several air rights parcels slated for redevelopment in the Back Bay. Developers Adam Weiner and Steve Samuels are planning to transform nearby lots into a 32-story hotel, residences, and retail stores in coming years.

But don’t expect construction to start right away. Air rights parcels are particularly difficult to develop in Boston, facing many bureaucratic hurdles and financial challenges due to the added cost of building over an active highway.

The bidders for Parcel 13 include Boston Residential Group, Trinity Financial LLC, and the Peebles Corp., a minority-owned firm from Florida looking to break into Boston’s red-hot real estate market.

Among the bids:

■  Peebles proposed a curvy, $330 million complex that would include 181 residences, a 156-room hotel, and 20,000 square feet of retail space. The complex, designed by Handel Architects of New York, would rise to 11 stories and contain 138 parking spaces as well as 6,800 square feet of community space. It would be called Viola Back Bay, a homage to the adjacent Berklee College of Music.


“We want the building to be very contextual, but you will know it’s a new building,” said R. Donahue “Don” Peebles, the company’s chief executive. “The architecture of the building is significant, so a viewer will recognize and appreciate that.”

Peebles has developed large projects nationwide, including the Royal Palm Hotel in Miami Beach and 10 G Street, a 280,000-square-foot office building near Union Station in Washington, D.C.

■  Trinity Financial of Boston proposed a multitiered building that would rise to 21 stories along Boylston Street. The $223 million development would include 350 apartments, retail space, and about 100 parking spaces.

Trinity has partnered with the transportation department on other major projects near transit stations. It developed the 241-unit Avenir housing complex at North Station and is now building One Canal, a 350-unit residential project on adjacent property. It also built a housing complex above Ashmont Station in Dorchester.

“We really feel like we’ve assembled the team that can pull this off,” said Kenan Bigby, a vice president at Trinity. “We see this as filling in a missing tooth in what is a very active and vibrant neighborhood.”

■  Boston Residential Group also submitted a proposal for the property, according to state officials, but executives with the company could not be reached for comment on their plans Friday.


Casey Ross can be reached at

Correction: Because of a reporting error, the Boston Residential Group was misidentified in an earlier version of this article.