On Monday, March 26, The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) held a joint impact advisory group and public meeting to discuss proposed changes to the office tower at the Hub on Causeway at North Station.
The two key changes to the project would be an increase of the office tower height from 480 feet to 495 feet, and an increase in the floor plate size for the mid-rise portion of the tower. The floor plate size for floors 8 – 14 would increase from just over 27,500 sq. ft. up to 35,500 sq. ft. The floor plate size for the high-rise portion (floors 15-31) would remain the same at 27,500 square feet.
Below is a diagram with the new project heights. Note the residential tower was approved to be 600 feet, but will be 466 feet. Similarly, the hotel was going to be 200,000 square feet, but has been lowered to 100,000 square feet. Overall, the square footage of the office tower has decreased from the originally approved 668,000 sq. ft. to 651,500 sq. ft.
The increased height of the office tower would allow for three floors to have 20-ft ceilings. These larger rooms would be used as “maker spaces” or all-hands gathering space. The rest of the floors would also increase in height from 12′ 10″ to 13′ 6″.
A roof deck has been added to plans, which would be a tenant amenity. This open air space would be covered and have a railing. The mechanicals for the tower would be within this top floor, so they are included in the 495-foot total height.
The proposed changes would affect the impact assessment of the building as follows:
Wind: By expanding the mid-rise floor plates and also creating the bump-out balconies seen in the rendering below, the wind impact improved in five areas along Causeway Street, including at the corner of Medford Street and the corner of Beverly Street. The wind impact did not worsen in any areas.
Shadow: With the new, additional 30 feet of height, the shadow increased slightly, mostly over train tracks, the highway ramp, and other areas already in shadow.
Traffic: The proposed design eliminates 16,500 sq. ft. of planned office space, thus decreasing the overall density of the building. This would be a benefit for traffic.
The Impact Advisory Group and public attendees raised additional questions:
Parking: There are currently 1200 parking spaces in the five-floor garage under TD Garden and 546 new spaces will be added with the new three-floor underground garage. Right now there are no reserved spaces in the new garage. Giuliana DiMambro from Boston Properties emphasized that the hotel going into the building does not have parking at any of its locations, as its clientele don’t often travel by car. There was also a suggestion for car sharing spaces. The Boston Transportation Department determines the percentage of overall spots that should be designated for car sharing.
Signage and traffic flow: Options for signage have been submitted to the BPDA to be reviewed by the design staff. These new options are smaller than the 50-ft marquee in the original design. During construction, Causeway Street will remain open, with most of the work happening on-site, not from the street. The cycle track will be fully operational end of spring, and the sidewalk will reopen this year.
Impact & Mitigation: One IAG member suggested now is an opportune time to set a program for maintaining this high density area. There are a lot of people coming and going from events, which leads to trash and higher use of public amenities, such as benches. One suggestion was of resources funded by the developer, such as streetscapes, to clean sidewalks and keep the area looking nice. Another person proposed a business improvement district, similar to the recently petitioned Greenway BID.
Community Room: As seen in the floor plan below, there will be a community room near the residential tower. This 1500 sq. ft. space is modeled after the Fort Point room at Atlantic Wharf. A few attendees asked if this could be a dedicated space for the West End Community Center. The response was that this will not be an exclusive space, but will be available to all community groups and maintained by Boston Properties.
- The East and West podiums will be finished the end of this year. This includes “The Hub” – the new entrance to the TD Garden and orange / green line service.
- Mid next year the grocery store will open. This is going to be a 50-60,000 sq. ft. Star market. Also opening in 2019 will be the movie theater, food hall, sports bar & steak house, and live music venue on the 2nd floor.
- The hotel will open at the end of 2019.
- The residential tower will be done in phases – the first phase should be complete by the end of 2019 and subsequent phases in 2020.
The public comment period is open now through April 2nd. Submit your comments here. You can also read the complete notice of change here.