- May 25, 2006
- Reaction score
Thank God! Boston has far too many "early 20th century eclectic style" buildings. What we really need is more poorly built, faux-brick and pre-cast concrete panel buildings. Let's get moving on this.Bankers & Tradesman said:Site May Prove to Be A Jewel in the Rough
New Building to Replace Former Shreve, Crump & Low; Possible Uses Include Luxury Condos, Class A Offices
By Thomas Grillo
B&T staff photo by Thomas Grillo
The Shreve, Crump & Low building at 330 Boylston St. may be
razed to make way for offices or luxury condominiums.
The art deco building that housed an upscale jeweler on Boylston Street could become the next site for luxury condominiums or Class A office space.
Ronald M. Druker, president of The Druker Co., which owns the Shreve, Crump & Low building across from the Boston Public Garden, could not be reached for comment. But City Councilor Michael Ross, who has been briefed on the proposal, said the 5-story mid-rise is expected to be replaced by a new building.
While details of the project have not been filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the city?s planning and development agency, Ross said whatever is built on the site will be in keeping with the company?s reputation for construction that is sensitive to the neighborhood.
?Ron Druker has done development in that area and knows what it means to build near the Public Garden,? said Ross, who met with the developer recently to discuss the project. ?He?s done it before and done it successfully and he has an understanding and respect for the Back Bay neighborhood.?
But not everyone is convinced that Druker will listen to neighbors.
John Herbert, past president of the Ellis South End Neighborhood Association, said the group was shut out of discussions for Druker?s Atelier|505. The mixed-use development adjacent to the Boston Center for the Arts, at Tremont and Berkeley streets, opened two years ago with 103 units of luxury condominiums, shops and restaurants.
?I?m not sure who to blame ? Druker, the BRA or the BCA ? but it was clear that none of them wanted our input,? Herbert recalled. ?We wanted to participate in planning the building because we had a number of suggested improvements, but Druker had his agenda and the BCA had theirs and neither wanted to hear from anyone. It was very difficult.?
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino told Banker & Tradesman that Druker?s proposal is ?interesting.?
?What I saw fits the zoning guidelines in that neighborhood,? Menino said. ?It has some steps to go, but it certainly looks like a product that will meet the muster of the community. The plan will have to go before the community before it?s approved.?
Druker?s Boston-based real estate company is known for its large, urban mixed-use projects. In addition to Atelier|505, the company has completed the Heritage on the Garden, an upscale complex on Boylston Street that features residential, retail and office suites across from the Public Garden. In 1971, the firm built the Colonnade Hotel on Huntington Avenue.
Timothy Mitchell, an architect who lives and works in Boston?s Back Bay, said residents are sure to be concerned about the height of any building at the Shreve location. With height comes shadows, he said, that could be cast onto the Public Garden, lower Boylston Street and Commonwealth Avenue.
?When you think about how the sun moves, a tall building there on this low-rise Back Bay neighborhood will not only put homes in the dark but historically significant buildings are also vulnerable,? he said. ?And that would certainly change their architectural significance.?
Susan Prindle, chairwoman of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay?s Architecture Committee, said she met with Druker a year ago when he wanted to build an office tower at the Shreve site. But since then, the two have not spoken, she said.
Prindle was one of three dozen residents who petitioned the Boston Landmarks Commission last fall to designate the Shreve building as a landmark. In its 10-page request, neighbors argued that the 103-year-old building is a ?rare example of an early 20th century eclectic style that combines themes from several historic styles into one.? The 5-story Shreve does not overshadow its neighbor, the Arlington Street Church, or the Public Garden, according to the document. The architect, William G. Rantoul, was well known for his many luxurious homes and estates, the residents wrote.
In addition, the group cited the storied jeweler?s history, noting that Shreve, Crump & Low is America?s oldest jeweler. Founded in 1796, the first store was first located at Washington and Summer streets. In 1929, it moved from Downtown Crossing to 330 Boylston St. in the Back Bay.
But the commission rejected the application. The panel noted that the petitioners could file for landmark status again if they found further evidence of the building?s significance.
The proposal comes as several projects are in the works for the Back Bay and the Prudential Center. The Clarendon, another luxury condominium and apartment tower, is under construction near the John Hancock Tower. In addition, the 13-story Mandarin Oriental Boston hotel is scheduled to open next year next to Lord & Taylor on Boylston Street. The $230 million project will add 168 guestrooms and the property will be part of a mixed-use complex with first-floor retail and condominiums on the upper floors.
Another proposal that has not yet been filed with the BRA yet is a new tower at Copley Place. The Simon Property Group is considering a mix of condos and retail uses in front of the Neiman Marcus store at the corner of Stuart and Dartmouth streets. At the other end of the Back Bay, Berklee College of Music has discussed plans for a high- rise dormitory in the neighborhood.
Earlier this month, Boston Properties and Avalon Bay Communities filed plans for a $192 million proposal that calls for a 30-story residential high-rise on Exeter Street across from the Boston Public Library and construction of an office building at 888 Boylston St., adjacent to the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention.
Some members of the Prudential Project Advisory Committee (PruPAC), a group formed in the 1980s by former Mayor Ray Flynn to advise City Hall on development proposals in the neighborhood, already have expressed concern about the height and density of the Prudential Center initiatives. While PruPAC has encouraged construction of the residential tower on Exeter Street, some members are asking whether a high-rise across from the library makes sense for the historic neighborhood.
Mark Slater, president of the Bay Village Neighborhood Association, said he is concerned that all new construction of condominiums is reserved for the very wealthy.
?I?m not sure what the city needs is another vertical gated community,? he said.
Idiotic shadow & density arguments aside, this seems like a nice building. Might be a good candidate for adaptive reuse.