Discover Boston’s Booming Neighborhoods: Spotlight on the Seaport District
Boston Seaport has been riding a wave of phenomenal growth over the last five years that has given rise to exciting new development and transformation in the area. Once a dead zone of parking lots located along the prime real estate of Boston Harbor, the Seaport District is now blossoming into one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods—for residents, businesses, and visitors alike. Amidst the ongoing construction, this special part of the city now boasts everything from top restaurants and retail to green spaces and waterways, with much more coming down the pike.
Upcoming: More Greenery and Shops
The Boston Globe recently reported on new plans for added greenery to the Seaport district area—“Harbor Way,” a one third of a mile long tree-lined walkway for pedestrians that is expected to add to the area’s blossoming neighborhood appeal. Harbor Way would not only bring more green space to the Seaport, but would host new restaurants, stores, and buildings, helping to create a lively spine in the business district. In addition to a walkway, the new development would also be a waterway, extending from Summer Street to the edge of the Boston Waterfront.
As Yanni Tsipis told the Boston Globe: “Our vision for the Seaport is focused on creating soul for the district. This means building buildings whose beauty and elegance will stand the test of time, and infusing every city block with restaurants, boutiques, residents, workplaces, and most importantly with diverse civic and cultural uses, all set amidst an extraordinary public realm.” Tsipis is leading the Harbor Way project for WS Development, which includes a larger plan for the undeveloped section of Seaport Square, located in the heart of the district. That plan envisions replacing the current mix of parking lots and construction sites with nine blocks of new residential buildings, shops, offices, and hotels. The street and lower levels would enjoy more than 100 new storefronts.
To help make the Seaport district more friendly to neighborhood foot traffic, plans are in place to cut down on the number of parking spaces in the area while investing in bike lanes, shuttle service, and other pedestrian improvements. The Seaport will also be getting its first grocery store, a neighborhood market called Frank Anthony’s Gourmet Market at 11 Fan Pier Boulevard.
And at BISNOW’s “State of the Seaport” event held on February 23 at the Westin Boston Waterfront, speakers referred to the continuous evolution of “Boston’s most happening neighborhood” as the first Master Plan Development that Boston has experienced since the filling in of the Back Bay. At the event, Boston-based business leaders including keynoters Matt O’Toole, president of Reebok and Michael Phillips, President of Jamestown LP considered big questions that Bostonians have long pondered about the area, from whether Boston Seaport has become a true live, work, and play neighborhood, to transportation issues, to the latest buildings planned for development.
Alex Twining, CEO of Twining Properties, was one of the speakers to address the question about whether the Seaport is in fact morphing into a real residential neighborhood. In a recent interview for BISNOW, Twining answered strongly in the affirmative: “the Seaport is transforming Boston, by emerging as a new mixed-use neighborhood that has physically connected Downtown, Fort Point Channel, the Fan Pier and the World Trade Center.”
Twining should know, since his firm was the one responsible for developing the master plan of Seaport’s residential redevelopment, including the first apartments as well as retail. The new development, Watermark Seaport, was completed last year and is located at the new subway station, surrounded by more than 500,000 square feet of new retail stores. Other plans for retail growth in the Seaport include Kings Bowling and an ICON movie theater at Seaport Square.
In addition to close proximity to shopping and restaurants, neighborhoods thrive when they offer residents opportunities for a critical mass of uses, including easy access to health and fitness centers. Equinox Gym is on the way to the area, and Reebok recently helped out on this front as well, choosing the Seaport for its new global headquarters along with a 30,000 square-foot gym that features CrossFit, boxing, fitness studios, a mile-long track, and more. The growing popularity of the Seaport as a neighborhood destination is visible in the rise in community events, such as the first-ever Seaport Christmas tree lighting—Light Up Seaport—which took place near the waterfront last December. An expanding list of new restaurants will be opening up in the Seaport as well, including Aceituna Grill (there’s currently a location in Kendall Square), Better Bagels, the vegan NYC-based By Chloe, London-based Yo! Sushi, and the national steakhouse chain Mastro’s, all scheduled for fall arrival.
But the biggest indication of how hot Boston’s Seaport District has become is its burgeoning slate of residential developments. Besides Watermark Seaport, other major developments are on tap for completion in 2017. These include the largest mixed-use development project that Boston has seen in the last three decades, The Benjamin (scheduled to open this month) and VIA (scheduled to open this summer in July) at One Seaport Square. At 1.5 million square feet on three acres between Seaport Boulevard and Northern Avenue, the property contains 832 modern residential units, from studios up to three-bedrooms . The Benjamin will be 22 stories tall and VIA will be 20 stories tall, showing off a new standard in modern luxury for the Seaport District. Not only will both new amenity-packed buildings offer their residents sweeping views of the Boston skyline and Boston Harbor, but they will also qualify for LEED Silver sustainability certification, reflecting the fact that they are environmentally friendly. Additionally, 96 of the apartments in the two buildings will be designated affordable.
This growth is the tip of the iceberg for Boston’s Seaport District, with numerous other major residential developments (as well as office developments) scheduled for 2018 and 2019. The Boston Globe recently reported that more than $1.5 billion is currently invested in Seaport construction projects—from apartments and condos to storefronts and office space—with an additional $850 million scheduled to begin construction in the near future. Tucker White, a research analyst from Avision Young, told BISNOW recently that these completions “will open the floodgates in regards to foot traffic, disposable income and commuting, making 2017 more of a preparatory year compared to [2016 and 2015]. In short, the stage will continue to be set for the main performance commencing in 2018, starring GE and a wave of construction deliveries.”
White’s mention of GE refers to the electric company’s planned move to Seaport, with three new buildings comprising new corporate HQ, which will provide 1.5 acres of public space and incubator space in addition to offices for GE employees. Other major firms are flocking to Boston Seaport as well, including PWC, Vertex, Goodwin Procter, and Boston Consulting Group, the latter of which has a move planned from downtown Boston to the Seaport next year. Even the Seaport World Trade Center, current home of Fidelity Investments and 565,000 square feet of office space, is scheduled for potential redevelopment, which could bring even more retail to the area as well as more office space.
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