BCEC expansion

Mike

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MCCA issues RFP for BCEC expansion
Boston Business Journal - 2:18 PM EDT Tuesday, July 17, 2007


The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Tuesday issued a request for proposals from consulting firms interested in developing a master plan for the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center property.

The MCCA wants firms to submit plans for when and how the South Boston property could be expanded, the association said in a statement.

"We always anticipated that there would be a phase two of the BCEC project when the building proved to be as successful as we hoped," said Gloria Cordes Larson, chairman of the MCCA board. "The building has exceeded our expectations, and it is the right time to explore what we should do with the undeveloped portion of the property. A master plan is the best way to start the dialogue."

The MCCA said it is calling on firms to develop a master plan for the undeveloped 22 acres located where there is currently a surface parking lot. Firms will be required to provide an analysis of existing land and buildings, demonstrate if and when additional facilities are necessary, define measures used to demonstrate the need for and financial impact of facility expansion, and analyze traffic and environmental considerations.

Requests for proposals will be available July 25 at noon on the MCCA Web site and are due September 5, the association said.


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Ron Newman

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I would have expected there was already a plan, and the only decision was when to build it?
 

Beton Brut

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Ron Newman said:
I would have expected there was already a plan, and the only decision was when to build it?
I believe that Rafael Vi?oly's design included a phase 2 expansion of the building. The master plan will likely be a revision of an existing document, addressing the need for (underground or structured) parking, an in-depth study of traffic impacts, access to the (new) Southern end via public transportation, logistics, and the impact on other planned South Boston developments. Many things have changed since the initial design was made public in the late 90's.

I hope phase 2 remains true to the existing design.
 

dirtywater

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The possibility of a Phase 2 is the result of cutbacks in the original scale of the project. This is discussed in an article at http://www.dronesclub.net/Thesis/index.html which briefly describes the design changes prompted by, you guessed it, cost overruns in the project:
Economic Consequences: Cost Overruns and Long Term Development

After years of studies, politics, reports, and preparation, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center was nearly entirely derailed in January, 2001. Bostonians woke up to find the entire project on hold as reports surfaced regarding a possible $100 million cost overrun. In the face of multi-billion dollar cost overruns and local and national scandal regarding who-knew-what-and-when-did-they-know-it over the Central Artery ?Big Dig? overruns, lawmakers were not in the mood to tolerate a costly bail out for the BCEC. House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran threatened the BCEC would face "very tough sledding" if the MCCA turned to lawmakers to cover the overrun. "If this is driven by that mentality of a big feed at the public trough, there will be no appetite whatever for adjusting the bottom line," Finneran declared. The old issue arose over the role between private developers and government on public projects when Finneran proposed "Call[ing] in a private sector developer, someone like a Tom Flatley, literally right now, and say, ?Can you come in as a public service and look at what we?ve done.?" Secretary of Administration and Finance Stephen Crosby attributed the overruns to "this inflation bubble in the middle of Boston that?s put such extraordinary demands on construction resources," and recommended that aside from cutting costs at the MCCA to increase revenues, advertising, naming rights, and various joint ventures ought to be considered.

With her promise of a convention center delivered "on time and on budget" at risk, MCCA Chairwoman Gloria Larson halted development to review the options with development chairman Dean Stratouly, project chief Walter "Budge" Upton, and Linda Snyder, chief of the State College Building Authority (who volunteered to find hitherto overlooked savings opportunities). This meeting resisted asking the State House for another $100 million. The MCCA was left with two viable options: halt the project altogether or scale back the scope of the project to conform to existing revenue streams. Despite the Boston Globe's suggestion that the window for development in Boston had passed, halting BCEC development would send the message to Fan Pier/Waterfront developers that Boston was not serious about developing this area. A more realistic approach was to scale back the design, though the idea of dropping architect Rafael Vinoly?s futuristic design for a ?vanilla box? was rejected. Ultimately, the design team rescued the project and its sleek design by reducing the building?s 600,000 square feet by "less than ten percent," moving some parking from an indoor garage to outside, using a rubber roofing for the facility rather than the steel roofing originally envisioned, and raising $50 million through selling and then leasing back the facility?s central heating and cooling plant. The final plan would increase the total project from $750 million to $800 million, but with the $50 million recouped from the sale of the heating-cooling plant, the upfront capital cost to the state would not increase. The state would make annual payments to the energy company that buys and runs the plant, probably raising the eventual cost above what the authority would have spent to operate the plant itself. The opening date would be pushed back to May, 2004. Francis Joyce said the BCEC would make all attempts to maintain the size and facilities as originally planned, and where possible facilities would be built but not finished; for example, the framework of a breakout conference room might be built, but acoustical tiles, carpeting, and electrical work completed at a future date when the funds were available.
 

stellarfun

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I recall, but am not 100 percent positive, that a lot of the utility infrastructure was sized and built to support the initial larger-sized building.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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I hope that any new expansion will redo the front of the building on Summer St. That has got to be one of the least pedestrian friendly entrances, visually, I have ever seen. It belongs to an airport, not a convention center in an area where you are trying to get street life.

I mean, I know they won't because that is the signature, but still, in 15 years people will be calling that one of the ugliest buildings in Boston, once it's novelty wears off.
 

statler

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The Globe said:
Convention hall sees success, looks to grow
Officials will seek master plan to build on 22 acres at South Boston complex

By Peter J. Howe, Globe Staff | July 18, 2007

Encouraged by the steady growth in its bookings, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center officials yesterday took a key first step toward an expansion of the $700 million, three-year-old South Boston hall.

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, which runs the center, said it will invite consulting firms next week to submit by Sept. 5 a master plan for developing 22 vacant acres on the 62-acre site.

When the facility was designed and built in the early years of this decade, state officials envisioned adding another 200,000 to 300,000 square feet to its 516,000-square-foot footprint, along with support facilities such as a parking garage and second hotel.

"We always anticipated that there would be a phase two of the BCEC project when the building proved to be as successful as we hoped," said authority board chairwoman Gloria C. Larson, a Boston attorney. "The building has exceeded our expectations, and it is the right time to explore what we should do with the undeveloped portion of the property."

Rather than ask architectural firms to design an addition to the convention hall, Larson said the authority wants companies to take a broader, longer view of why, when, and how the convention hall should expand, through an overall master plan for the 62-acre parcel.

Measuring how the center is meeting projections is difficult because the original 1990s forecasts were based on building a 600,000-square-foot building and were made before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks jolted the convention and travel industries. About 84,000 square feet were trimmed from the design to keep the convention center project on budget.

Authority executive director James E. Rooney, however, said that from 2010 onward, "from a practical perspective, we have sold about as much as we can in that building in the peak periods. We cannot host another major event in the spring or fall" beyond what is already booked, Rooney said.

Winter is considered a hard time to sell Boston to out-of-town conventioneers because of the threat of blizzards disrupting air travel, and summer tends to attract more budget-minded fraternal organizations and fewer corporate meetings. The center last year hosted 145 events that drew 370,000 attendees

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino backed the call for a master plan.

"Since the BCEC opened three years ago, Boston has bolted to the top of the convention industry," Menino said in a prepared statement. "In order to ensure our competitive position, however, we need to be looking toward the future. Now is a good time to think about what the best next steps should be and how any new development at the BCEC would fit into the overall pattern of waterfront development."

Daniel O'Connell, Governor Deval L. Patrick's secretary of housing and economic development, said he envisions the master plan recommending either "to expand the BCEC or develop the land in another way that benefits the convention industry." O'Connell wouldn't be more specific.

Another factor encouraging city and state officials to consider expanding the center is that, after a 22-year-absence, Boston has made the top 10 list for US convention cities published by Tradeshow Week, an influential industry magazine.

The official "request for proposals" to develop a master plan will be available at noon a week from today through the massconvention.com website.

Peter J. Howe can be reached at howe@globe.com.
Link
 

stellarfun

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From the Herald:
Southie convention hall eyes expansion
By Scott Van Voorhis
Boston Herald Business Reporter
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - Updated: 12:42 AM EST

These are good times for Boston?s convention business. The city?s $800 million-plus convention center is already considering a major addition, just three years after it opened.

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority is seeking consultants to study a possible expansion that could mean another 300,000 square feet of exhibit space.

That would boost the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston to 800,000 square feet of exhibition space, giving it the size to compete with the nation?s largest meeting halls, said James Rooney, chief executive of the convention center authority.

More size may be needed to attract blockbuster shows that are now going to other halls, Rooney said.

?We have lost shows that can?t even fit into this large a building,? Rooney said. ?It would certainly put us (with) the big boys. Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas and Dallas are all over 1 million square feet.?

Driving the budding expansion plans are a growing number of stories about meetings lost to larger halls.

Rooney, a former MBTA executive, flew to Atlanta to make a direct plea to the American Public Transportation Association, a show that would have been one of the largest yet hosted in Boston.

But Boston lost out to Houston, because it simply did not have the room to host the show.

Size has also forced the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses to look elsewhere - while prompting the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which held a headline-grabbing international convention in Boston in May, to warn that it may soon outgrow the city?s convention center.

Meanwhile, Boston?s new convention hall is fast approaching the time - 2009 - when it will be fully booked over the next several years, Rooney said.

Already, the hall is averaging 125 events a year, including 40 major shows.

Rooney said he would like to see a master plan hammered out in the next six to 12 months, with construction two to three years out, if a decision is made to move forward.

The hall currently covers 40 acres near South Boston?s fast-growing waterfront, with another 22 acres now used as parking that could be built on.
I'm not sure they need to add a second 'convention center' hotel given all the hotels proposed or being built in the Seaport area.
 

Ron Newman

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I can't imagine too many people parking their cars under Boston Common in order to attend an event at the BCEC.
 

statler

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James E. Rooney, executive director of the authority, which owns the garage, said yesterday doubling the current 1,362-space garage could aid downtown development, provide parking for users of a future extension of the Silver Line, and provide new revenue to offset deficits from the state's two convention centers. The garage now produces $5 million in profit to subsidize the centers.
 

ChunkyMonkey

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High demand seen for auditorium
By Scott Van Voorhis | Friday, January 25, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Business & Markets

The Hub could gain a showcase auditorium for fast-growing biotech companies and major political events as part of an expansion of the city?s new convention center.

An auditorium that could seat thousands is under consideration if a decision is made to expand the new, $800 million Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, said Dean Stratouly, a member of the state board that oversees the hall.

An auditorium is in demand among the life sciences, high-tech and financial firms that have been flocking to the new center since it opened, Stratouly said. Such a venue would also be available for major political events as well, from presidential debates to mayoral addresses, James Rooney, chief executive of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

Rooney stressed that planning for a possible expansion is still at a very preliminary stage. A firm was recently hired to conduct a feasibility study. There?s been no decision yet on when or whether to move forward.

But convention center officials say they also want to make sure they stay ahead of the demand curve, with the main hall now filling up its calender with events several years in advance.

?We don?t want to sit back and wake up five years from now and find out the market has moved away from us,? Stratouly said.

To date, convention center officials have talked of adding 200,000 to 300,000 square feet of exhibition space to the 516,000-square-foot hall.

A centerpiece auditorium, however, would be just one part of that expansion, which would also likely include some sort of a parking garage, Stratouly said.

Convention centers around the world typically have auditoriums that range in size from 2,000 to 5,000 seats, Rooney said.

Such a venue, which would come with a stage and the latest in audio/visual equipment, might be used by drug and technology companies to unveil new products, officials said.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view.bg?articleid=1068880
 

stellarfun

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The Herald has a story today about rates for the Common garage going up. Allegedly, will still be cheaper than rates at commercial garages/lots. The Herald story states that the Common garage operates at 90 percent capacity.
 

Lrfox

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Where did Van Voorhis go to school and how did he get a job? I swear he has to have some major internal connections. Could we all chip in next Christmas and buy the man a thesaurus (my head will explode if I see the word "SOAR" in an another article about a 15 story mid-rise in the Back-Bay or Financial District)? He starts two consecutive paragraphs with "An Auditorium" in this most recent article. I was reprimanded for writing like that in 7th grade, and this guy gets away with this crap while writing for a major periodical (albeit, the Herald)? What a load of crap.
 

type001

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He's a hack writer at best, even by the Herald's standards. I can't criticize him enough either.
 

whighlander

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The Auditorium is however a significant factor added to the discussion

If you want to have a big time keynote address at the BEC you have to put in a platform and even then the sightlines are not good

Add another 200k big space for exhibition and a wing with 3,000 seat auditorium and some smaller rooms 500, 700 and then add about another 2,000 rooms connected to the Hall and you'd have a real nice Conference Venue except for the problem of access

Westy
 

palindrome

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When does it officially lose the title of "the new, $800 million Boston Convention & Exhibition Center"
 

tobyjug

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I seem to recall city hall types talking up naming it after Menino.
 

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