It’s no secret that it’s a desirable time to build in Boston. A few weeks ago, Boston Business Journal ran a piece spotlighting Winthrop Square in the heart of Boston’s financial district. This parcel has developers scrambling to get in on a piece of the action.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority, or BRA, announced a new request for interest for 115 Winthrop Square. This parcel is 47,738 square-feet and is in desperate need of remediation and redevelopment. The site currently hosts an out-of-use parking garage. Back in 2006, Mayor Menino called for a 1,000-foot tower on this site with entrepreneur, Steven Belkin, as the sole respondent. Unfortunately, plans for the tower were halted in the post-recession era and ownership was transferred to the BRA. Despite these setbacks, Belkin is still interested and proposed a 740-foot tower in place of his original plan.
One thing that stood out to us was the need for not only redevelopment but for the potential remediation costs for this site. Boston is quickly becoming one of the hottest real-estate markets in the country and it is important to acknowledge that any project of this scale is bound to be full of unexpected surprises and issues. Demolition is always the scariest part of any development considering what problems that might be hidden will be in full view and impossible to ignore. These issues can not only halt a project, but also significantly impact the project budget.
We don’t know what we don’t know about this site at the moment but there are a host of problems that could arise. Could there be asbestos, PCBs, underground tanks, or ground-water contamination? Dealing with removal of urban fill can be challenging and expensive. These are just a few things to keep in mind when considering a build-out. As we mentioned in our prior post, the BJ’s Gas project encountered a host of unexpected issues and with a proposed project many times the size of this one over, it is imperative to keep these concerns at the forefront. Doing proper due diligence and being aware of potential issues are key components to avoiding hidden costs, time delays and lawsuits.
We focus on the environmental and engineering aspects of real estate projects for our clients. Since 1992, our clients have relied on us to identify these issues and provide solutions to make sound business decisions when it comes to development in particular. We have encountered almost every environmental issue you can imagine. For many, this may seem like a nightmare but for us, it’s what we do.
The development boom that has been taking place in not only downtown Boston, but also the surrounding communities, is amazing. Development plays an important and necessary role in innovation and investing in the continued growth of our communities. We are staying tuned on this project as well as many more that are sure to come.