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maybe they can convert the unoccupied commercial space to satisfy the pickleball craze.

:ROFLMAO:


Honestly, opinions on the pickleball craze aside, this general point is a great one whether you meant it seriously or not. It is ridiculous to allow ourselves to believe that no one wants to use these old commercial spaces. It is, rather, that no one wants to pay top dollar for these old spaces for conventional office work. Recreational spaces, performance spaces, artist studios, maker spaces, commercial space for more physically-intensive fields/industries, dance/music/performance practice spaces, and so forth, would be incredibly popular in a lot of these places. I know, I know, a chorus of people are going to reply that none of that is economically viable. But that's where good policy can come in: rather than trying to mess with companies' office use plans, the city would be better served directing economic development funding and tax breaks toward these causes - and, let's face it, the rents and property values of these places will eventually decline if they are underutilized anyway. Even the city of Nashua, NH bought up some old commercial properties downtown and redeveloped them into a new theater and performing arts space with a mix of public funding and private donations (yes, there was a funding drive: $21m from city, $4m donations). I bet some of Boston's corporate behemoths who are economically healthy yet using less office space would nonetheless be willing to chip in to a "downtown vitality fund".
20230330_202206-jpg.36149

^Photo credit @Smuttynose ; thread here

More to CityDweller's point: you've got MIT putting a Ping Pong space into a commercial building in Kendall (slide 7 here).

Is all of this going to be hard and painful and expensive, yes, but if the choice is lots of deteriorating vacant buildings vs. doing something hard, I think the latter is the right choice. Mayor Wu, tell me where to send the donation check (not kidding).
 
Honestly, opinions on the pickleball craze aside, this general point is a great one whether you meant it seriously or not. It is ridiculous to allow ourselves to believe that no one wants to use these old commercial spaces. It is, rather, that no one wants to pay top dollar for these old spaces for conventional office work. Recreational spaces, performance spaces, artist studios, maker spaces, commercial space for more physically-intensive fields/industries, dance/music/performance practice spaces, and so forth, would be incredibly popular in a lot of these places. I know, I know, a chorus of people are going to reply that none of that is economically viable. But that's where good policy can come in....
[snip]
This has long been my contention. If the floor plate doesn't work for housing, because the interior is too large, then only build housing around the exterior, and use the interior for non-housing purposes. Recreational, light manufacturing, data centers, hydroponic agriculture, there is no end to uses that could inhabit the cores of these buildings. Time to stop trying to figure out how to fill the entire floor with residential, and move out of that box in to some more creative ideas.
 
Honestly, opinions on the pickleball craze aside, this general point is a great one whether you meant it seriously or not. It is ridiculous to allow ourselves to believe that no one wants to use these old commercial spaces. It is, rather, that no one wants to pay top dollar for these old spaces for conventional office work. Recreational spaces, performance spaces, artist studios, maker spaces, commercial space for more physically-intensive fields/industries, dance/music/performance practice spaces, and so forth, would be incredibly popular in a lot of these places. I know, I know, a chorus of people are going to reply that none of that is economically viable. But that's where good policy can come in: rather than trying to mess with companies' office use plans, the city would be better served directing economic development funding and tax breaks toward these causes - and, let's face it, the rents and property values of these places will eventually decline if they are underutilized anyway. Even the city of Nashua, NH bought up some old commercial properties downtown and redeveloped them into a new theater and performing arts space with a mix of public funding and private donations (yes, there was a funding drive: $21m from city, $4m donations). I bet some of Boston's corporate behemoths who are economically healthy yet using less office space would nonetheless be willing to chip in to a "downtown vitality fund".
20230330_202206-jpg.36149

^Photo credit @Smuttynose ; thread here

More to CityDweller's point: you've got MIT putting a Ping Pong space into a commercial building in Kendall (slide 7 here).

Is all of this going to be hard and painful and expensive, yes, but if the choice is lots of deteriorating vacant buildings vs. doing something hard, I think the latter is the right choice. Mayor Wu, tell me where to send the donation check (not kidding).

One hundred percent spot-on. Well expressed and fullly accurate observations. Please run for local office -- seriously.
 
This has long been my contention. If the floor plate doesn't work for housing, because the interior is too large, then only build housing around the exterior, and use the interior for non-housing purposes. Recreational, light manufacturing, data centers, hydroponic agriculture, there is no end to uses that could inhabit the cores of these buildings. Time to stop trying to figure out how to fill the entire floor with residential, and move out of that box in to some more creative ideas.
I really doubt that you can come up with mixed floor arrangements with non-housing uses that make the housing very attractive. Issue like noise, security and access are pretty high on people's list for housing. You might, though, be able to get creative with housing related amenities to fill out the core.
 
I really doubt that you can come up with mixed floor arrangements with non-housing uses that make the housing very attractive. Issue like noise, security and access are pretty high on people's list for housing. You might, though, be able to get creative with housing related amenities to fill out the core.
I think we have to get beyond current notions of what makes housing attractive. I suspect that affordable is attractive, for example.
 
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Something that still isn't lining quite up for me is the steel in front of the arches. Unless I missed something (quite possible), the renders showed nothing obstructing the view of the arches. So is that just temporary bracing or am I just not observant?
 
^^ I had been wondering about that too. As a train rider, I'm looking forward to the finished train platform. Hopefully it looks as good as it does in the renders.

If anybody hopping on a train any time soon could snap a couple photos of how it looks from the actual track area, I'd appreciate it. I won't be there in the near future (that I know of).
 
This has long been my contention. If the floor plate doesn't work for housing, because the interior is too large, then only build housing around the exterior, and use the interior for non-housing purposes. Recreational, light manufacturing, data centers, hydroponic agriculture, there is no end to uses that could inhabit the cores of these buildings. Time to stop trying to figure out how to fill the entire floor with residential, and move out of that box in to some more creative ideas.

The secondary use case that I keep thinking of in this situation is self-storage. Seems to check a lot of important boxes:
  • No natural light requirements.
  • No need for plumbing. Even HVAC could potentially be optional.
  • Doesn't generate many trips to/from the building.
  • Could potentially make use of existing service elevators and be completely separated from residential elevator banks/hallways.
  • Optionally can serve an amenity for the residential portion.
Not exactly sure what it commands for rents when located in downtowns. Of course, if every Class B office building were to attempt this the market would oversaturate, but I'm surprised I haven't heard of anyone attempting this conversion.
 
Honestly, opinions on the pickleball craze aside, this general point is a great one whether you meant it seriously or not. It is ridiculous to allow ourselves to believe that no one wants to use these old commercial spaces. It is, rather, that no one wants to pay top dollar for these old spaces for conventional office work. Recreational spaces, performance spaces, artist studios, maker spaces, commercial space for more physically-intensive fields/industries, dance/music/performance practice spaces, and so forth, would be incredibly popular in a lot of these places. I know, I know, a chorus of people are going to reply that none of that is economically viable. But that's where good policy can come in: rather than trying to mess with companies' office use plans, the city would be better served directing economic development funding and tax breaks toward these causes - and, let's face it, the rents and property values of these places will eventually decline if they are underutilized anyway. Even the city of Nashua, NH bought up some old commercial properties downtown and redeveloped them into a new theater and performing arts space with a mix of public funding and private donations (yes, there was a funding drive: $21m from city, $4m donations). I bet some of Boston's corporate behemoths who are economically healthy yet using less office space would nonetheless be willing to chip in to a "downtown vitality fund".
20230330_202206-jpg.36149

^Photo credit @Smuttynose ; thread here

More to CityDweller's point: you've got MIT putting a Ping Pong space into a commercial building in Kendall (slide 7 here).

Is all of this going to be hard and painful and expensive, yes, but if the choice is lots of deteriorating vacant buildings vs. doing something hard, I think the latter is the right choice. Mayor Wu, tell me where to send the donation check (not kidding).

Excellent write up, BP7, and I 100% support that vision for a vibrant urban future - - but it does require the other half of the scenario for it to thrive.

These theatres/recreational spaces/museums will be under-attended and will wilt unless there is a vibrant 24/7 RESIDENTIAL urban boom. It will require a boom in patrons and staffers who can walk to these things. Remember, the buildings they will be replacing (or reimagining) are buildings that had a previously captive audience that is no longer captive (be it 9-5 workers that are now virtual or shoppers that have migrated to online).

Yes, these redone spaces will be great organs, but without enough lifeblood of very local humanoids, they will die on the vine over time. Cut the obstacles, Mayor Wu, and allow developers to build the residential towers for the 200,000+ new Bostonians who will allow the city to readjust itself (and save itself from the office building bust) for the rest of the 21st century.

In particular, the demographic of the Empty Nest Baby Boomer Retirees (the most cultured of whom want to live in cities - not The Villages in Florida) have lots of time and money and desire for "experiences" - - this is ripe/ low hanging fruit for museums/theatres/art spaces. Lift off!

I fear that focusing only on the "organs", ultimately, is a lost opportunity.
 
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The secondary use case that I keep thinking of in this situation is self-storage. Seems to check a lot of important boxes:
  • No natural light requirements.
  • No need for plumbing. Even HVAC could potentially be optional.
  • Doesn't generate many trips to/from the building.
  • Could potentially make use of existing service elevators and be completely separated from residential elevator banks/hallways.
  • Optionally can serve an amenity for the residential portion.
Not exactly sure what it commands for rents when located in downtowns. Of course, if every Class B office building were to attempt this the market would oversaturate, but I'm surprised I haven't heard of anyone attempting this conversion.

Self storage is a great suggestion and an amenity that exists in many apartment and condo buildings. It's not a great departure, nor is a problematic noise or safety issue. In the city where square footage is limited, storage space is at a premium. During our hunt for a condo, we turned down several because closet space was limited and storage for larger items (skis, bikes, bins of holiday decor, beach chairs, etc.) didn't exist. I'm a little less confident in public self storage on the same floors as residential units, but it could be an amenity at the very least.

You could also leave some of it as shared workspace which isn't a vast departure from the original use. I'd be thrilled if I could walk a few yards from my unit to a space with desks, good wifi, power hookups, and maybe even a small, enclosed conference area for virtual (or the occasional in-person) meetings. Similar to storage, it means less condo or apartment space needs to be utilized for a home office which is greatly beneficial to those living there.
 
Whew, I'm glad SST made it to construction before the current cooldown in the market. Same for Parcel 12 and the Fenway Center over the Mass Pike.
 
Whew, I'm glad SST made it to construction before the current cooldown in the market. Same for Parcel 12 and the Fenway Center over the Mass Pike.
Everything is speculation until it actually happens. The only thing slowing down more projects is the return of investment doesn't happen fast enough for the real estate players.
 
Everything is speculation until it actually happens. The only thing slowing down more projects is the return of investment doesn't happen fast enough for the real estate players.
You're right. What I'm thinking is a market crash that could be on the horizon if the Federal debt limit impasse isn't resolved and the Federal Government defaults.
 
You're right. What I'm thinking is a market crash that could be on the horizon if the Federal debt limit impasse isn't resolved and the Federal Government defaults.


It'll be resolved. It'll be messy in the very short-term, but it'll be resolved.

The bigger, longer-term issues are
1) interest rates
2) how the city pivots away from the city offering free Dunkin Donuts Days to office workers to the city incentivizing and lowering hurdles to residential tower developers to achieve the Boston 800,000 goal.

That's the ballgame.
 

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