Plans for a 24-story office tower on the edge of the Leather District and Chinatown are set to move forward through city review.
Oxford Properties on Friday filed detailed plans for a 625,000-square-foot office building it wants to build on the site of an aging parking garage at 125 Lincoln St., the first step in permitting with the Boston Planning & Development Agency.
Documents filed by the developer show a 340-foot tower rising from the narrow site, tucked between the historic warehouse buildings of the Leather District, ramps to Interstate 93, and the Chinatown Gate. It would include nearly 600,000 square feet of office space — in a desirable spot close to South Station and the Financial District — with publicly accessible indoor space on its ground floor and an outside plaza of roughly the same size along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
“For us, the proximity to South Station is just huge,” said Mark McGowan, vice president and head of development at Oxford. “And there just aren’t that many sites like that in downtown Boston that lend themselves to a great office building.”
Oxford, the real estate arm of a large Canadian pension fund, has become a major landlord in the city in recent years, buying several prominent office buildings downtown and in the Back Bay. This will be its first development project in Boston, though the company has built in New York City and Toronto, among other markets. It sees strong demand here from companies that want room to grow in the core of the market, McGowan said.
“In our portfolio, we’re seeing a lot of growth from tenants on the demand side of the equation,” he said. “This makes a lot of sense.”
If permitting goes quickly, McGowan said, Oxford could break ground on the tower in about a year, though he said the firm hasn’t decided if it will start construction without a tenant, or wait until some of the space has been pre-leased.
It may also have to navigate some neighborhood concerns. The ground floor of the garage holds a popular Chinese supermarket and Hei La Moon, a longtime dim sum restaurant. They’ll stay open during project planning and McGowan said Oxford wants to help find new homes for both. It has also been talking with representatives of Chinatown, the Leather District, and nearby sections of downtown to make sure neighbors feel heard during the planning process.
“You have all these forces at work right there. That’s why we love the site,” McGowan said. “But it comes with a lot of responsibility.”