The lowdown on 5 condo towers coming to Boston
A look at high-rise projects being developed from Copley Square to Government Center and down to the TD Garden.
ADDRESS: 130 Dartmouth Street
WHO'S IT FOR? Shopaholics
COMPLETED BY: Summer 2019
HEIGHT: 625 feet (includes nonresidential space)
STORIES: 52 (includes nonresidential space)
UNITS: 120 condos; 421 rentals
PRICE RANGE: Condos $975,000 to $15 million-plus; rents not set
BONUS: Need a new scarf or a sweater but don't have the time to shop? A personal shopper will go downstairs to the mall and buy it.
AS ANY VISITOR TO COPLEY PLACE CAN TELL YOU, the conventional wisdom that shopping malls are dying at the hands of online retailers appears to be greatly exaggerated; in fact, upscale malls are doing just fine, thank you. To prove the point, the Simon Property Group, which owns Copley Place and more than 200 other malls — more than any other real estate company in the United States — has undertaken a 45,000-square-foot expansion of the mall's footprint that will include more space for Neiman Marcus, three as-yet-unnamed restaurants, seven new retail spaces, and, yes, a soaring residential tower above, with soft edges and enough glass to rebuild the Crystal Palace.
The Copley Tower condos will have a separate entrance from the apartments, separate elevators, and better views — they start on the 38th floor — and owners will have access to additional amenities, including an outdoor terrace and a private dining room on the sixth floor. And everyone gets the supplementary convenience of having possibly anything they could want just an elevator ride away. "You can live, shop, and work there," says Patrick Peterman, Simon's vice president of development, referring to the office space in Copley Place and nearby buildings, including the Prudential Center. Services will include home decorating and personal shopping, says Peterman, "so if a resident would like a scarf from Neiman, someone will go pick up three different scarves for them to choose from. There's a lot of synergy, and we're looking to take full advantage of that in ways other projects might not be able to do."
Also in the works is a large public winter garden on the ground floor of Copley Place. "Six months out of the year it's hard for the community to use the outdoor space at Copley Square," Peterman says, "so we're creating an exciting environment, but enclosed, climate-controlled, that everyone will be able to enjoy and use for socializing." Beyond Copley Place, Simon plans to spend $2 million on public art at the entrance to the Southwest Corridor Park, adjacent to the mall, and on improvements to the blah Back Bay MBTA station, across Dartmouth Street.
ADDRESS: 1 Congress Street
WHO'S IT FOR? Urban hipsters of all ages who want to rent
COMPLETED BY: Spring 2019
HEIGHT: 480 feet
UNITS: 475, all rentals
PRICE RANGE: Undisclosed
BONUS: Parking for 850 bikes and a dog spa
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU HEARD someone call Government Center beautiful? Never, that's when. That could change in a few years when the squat concrete parking garage overhanging Congress Street gets a graceful makeover. The centerpiece of the six-building site will be an impossibly lithe residential tower with a flirtatious sweep at the bottom that suggests a daring peek at a Victorian lady's ankle. Rents at One Congress Residential Tower aren't being disclosed, but they're sure to be high: Amenities include a sky lobby with views of the Charles River and Back Bay, an 11th-floor heated outdoor pool, a coffee bar, and bicycle parking, along with the doorman, lounge, and fitness area typical of high-end apartment complexes.
It will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, which has never forgotten the 1950s and '60s zeal for urban renewal that razed the West End, a vibrant beehive of working-class Italians and Jews. Boston's current building boom is a response to the migration back to cities that's taking place nationwide, says Thomas O'Brien, managing director of One Congress developer HYM Investment Group.
The West End is positioned perfectly to take advantage of everything urban life has to offer, from the restaurants of the North End to the new Boston Public Market to the public art and grassy lawns of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
"We're in the midst of a renaissance; there's an amazing trend happening in Boston right now," O'Brien says. "When I was a kid, you went to a Red Sox game and saw mostly gas stations and tire shops around Fenway. Now people want to pay $4.50 a square foot [for rent] to live there. The city has all kinds of restaurants, shops, and services now that didn't exist a couple decades ago."
ADDRESS: 1 Nashua Street
WHO'S IT FOR? Sports fans and reverse commuters
COMPLETED BY: Late 2017
HEIGHT: 450 feet
UNITS: 503, all rentals
PRICE RANGE: $2,400 per month (lower-level studio) to $7,500 per month (38th-floor penthouse)
BONUS: A private Wi-Fi cafe, pet-friendly policy, and sky-high terrace
BOSTON IS A CITY THAT WORKS HARD and plays hard, and those who move to Avalon North Station will always be just minutes from doing both. Imagine no more sitting in traffic for an hour to reach your tech job along Route 128. No more squeezing against the closing doors in a packed Green Line car to get to the game at the TD Garden — just take the elevator and cross the street. Beat that.
Zakim Bridge views, pet-friendly units, a 35th-floor terrace, and a private Wi-Fi cafe are an added draw, as are all the changes that are still to come in the no man's land around Causeway Street. Look for more apartments to go up nearby, as well as additional retail space, restaurants, and offices, and even a 63,000-square-foot Star Market with a prepared-foods section, a sushi bar, a pharmacy, and a Starbucks. It's a transformation that started with the Big Dig and the removal of the elevated T in 2004 and will only continue, according to Scott Dale, senior VP of development for AvalonBay Communities. "It's very exciting," he says. "The taller buildings are adding diversity to the skyline of downtown, and if done properly, they're a net positive. The residential development in general in some neighborhoods is going to add to the livability of the city. With more people living downtown, there's more critical mass, and all the other things that support residential development will follow."
ADDRESS: 1 Dalton Street
WHO'S IT FOR? Luxury lovers
COMPLETED BY: 2018
HEIGHT: 750 feet
UNITS: 180 condos starting on the 26th floor (plus a new hotel with 170 rooms, 41 suites, and a separate entrance)
PRICE RANGE: Undisclosed
BONUS: Hotel amenities like a 24-hour concierge and housekeeping services
IT'S BEEN DECADES SINCE new bones were added to Boston's High Spine, a loose row of downtown skyscrapers that were a keystone of city planning beginning in the early 1960s. The latest is a showstopper. Designed by John Hancock Tower architect Henry Cobb, One Dalton will dwarf every other residential building in New England, with a tall and slim profile even Gisele Bundchen would envy.
Developers haven't disclosed the cost of the units, which range from around 1,000 to 8,000 square feet, but expect prices, like the roof, to touch the clouds. If you've got the bucks, it will be worth every penny, with housekeeping, pet services, an indoor pool, a 24-hour valet, concierge, and doorman, a screening room, and even a golf simulator, all managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. "In every detail, this is a building the likes of which Boston has never seen," says Richard Friedman, CEO of hotel development firm Carpenter & Co. of Cambridge. He should know; Carpenter has done nearly a dozen hotels in the Boston area, including the Liberty and the Charles, and Friedman plans to give up his Cambridge home to live in this one himself.
As for that price tag, it might not be among the heftiest for long. "By New York, London, and San Francisco standards," Friedman says, "we're not that expensive. Boston is one of the great cities, with the greatest academic institutions, cultural institutions, and biotechnology, and it's
really stepping onto the world stage, so we're just catching up pricewise. Boston's been undervalued for a long time."
ADDRESS: 1 Franklin Street
WHO'S IT FOR? Well-heeled gourmets
COMPLETED BY: Summer 2016
HEIGHT: 685 feet
UNITS: 442 condos
PRICE RANGE: $2.4 million to $37.5 million
NUMBER SOLD: 380
BONUS: An endless events calendar of food, wine, and "cultural experiences" and the largest gym of any Boston condo building
DESPITE ITS SEEMINGLY IDEAL location between Boston Common and the Financial District and proximity to the Greenway, Downtown Crossing has struggled to find its footing since the closing of the Filene's flagship store in 2006. That could finally end next year, when Millennium Tower Boston opens, filling the hole — literally — that the retailer's departure left behind.
The building's specs are similar to those of San Francisco's Millennium Tower, which Worth magazine named one of the top 10 residential buildings in the world in 2012. One thing that distinguishes Millennium properties is the La Vie program, described as a "social network of curated food, wine, and cultural experiences" meant to make vertical living a little more homey by helping residents get to know one another through on-site lectures and wine tastings as well as field trips to plays, concerts, and special events like Harbor Islands cruises.
That and the 37,000-square-foot Roche Brothers supermarket next door, with its huge prepared-foods section, will help ensure you'd never have to cook again, but the real draw for gastronomes will be the building's alliance with chef Michael Mina, who owns award-winning restaurants across the country. Mina and sushi chef Ken Tominaga are opening an izakaya — a Japanese version of a pub — in the retail space on the tower's lower floors and will offer a private restaurant for residents and their guests every evening on the club level. But don't worry: You'd be able to work off all those extra calories with a private trainer at the 10,000-square-foot gym, the largest in any Boston condo building.
Richard Baumert of Millennium Partners is confident of the local market's comfort with New York-esque rates of nearly $3,000 a square foot. "People want beautifully designed buildings and high-level services," he says, "and they want to live in Boston."