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State puts Hurley Building, a prime downtown development site, on the market

The center courtyard at the Hurley Building.
The center courtyard at the Hurley Building. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Boston’s hot real estate market has prompted a number of developers to tear down and build up. Now the Baker administration wants a piece of the action.

On Wednesday, it unveiled plans to redevelop the state-owned Charles F. Hurley Building, at the edge of the old West End and Government Center, to open up a prime 3.25-acre site on the corner of Staniford and Cambridge streets. A deal could, at a minimum, fetch the state tens of millions of dollars.

The state would issue a ground lease to a development partner that would oversee the design, planning, and construction of a new office complex, with new ground-floor retail and restaurant spaces likely, as well. The administration said it expects to identify a redeveloper within 18 to 24 months after putting the project out to bid. Construction could start as soon as three years from now.

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No changes are planned at the adjoining Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center.

The Brutalist-style Hurley Building is nearly 50 years old and requires extensive renovations that could cost as much as $200 million, according to the Baker administration. Its layout is inefficient, expensive to maintain, and not easily brought up to modern office standards, officials said. The six-story building consists of 327,000 gross square feet, including 241,000 square feet of “usable space.” The top floor lacks windows on three sides.

Current zoning allows for heights of 125 feet along the street edges and up to 400 feet on the property’s interior.

The state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance said its approach to redeveloping the property will “acknowledge the architecturally significant elements of the Hurley-Lindemann site, while addressing its flaws.”

The complex, sometimes called the Government Services Center, was planned by a prominent architect, Paul Rudolph, and was once meant to include a third building, a tower that was never built. Instead, in a marked architectural departure, the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse was built on the site and opened in 1999.

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A 1973 aerial view of the Charles F. Hurley Building in Boston.
A 1973 aerial view of the Charles F. Hurley Building in Boston. Ed Jenner/File/1973/Globe Staff

Brendan Carroll, a real estate expert with the brokerage Perry CRE, said he expects strong demand for the site from the private sector. He noted that comparable sales in Boston show the property’s price might exceed $200 million.

The Hurley Building is next door to Bowdoin Station on the MBTA’s Blue Line and a few blocks from North Station.

“My expectation is that this will garner interest from every suitable developer in this region,” Carroll said, “and may attract groups from outside the region.”

He noted the Hurley/Lindemann block is sandwiched between two huge projects, the Hub on Causeway and Bulfinch Crossing. The first is a 1.5-million-square-foot, mixed-use complex that Boston Properties and Delaware North are building next to TD Garden; the second, developed by HYM Investment Group, will consist of nearly 3 million square feet in several new buildings at the Government Center Garage site.

“It very much speaks to the emergence of the greater North Station area as a true extension of Boston’s central business district,” Carroll said.

About 675 state employees occupy the Hurley Building. They work for several agencies, including the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the Group Insurance Commission. The state will need temporary and in some cases permanent relocation plans for the workers. But the Baker administration said all Hurley employees will remain in or close to Boston in a transit-accessible location.

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The developer would be expected to make a significant amount of space available to state employees in the project, although an administration spokesman did not rule out housing on the site, as well. Most of the labor department employees would be expected to return. US Department of Labor funds helped build the structure, and the federal agency still has equity in the site.


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.