Suffolk Downs Redevelopment | East Boston

Equilibria

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Lrfox

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Beton, I know you've been advocating for more affordable housing for this development. What do you think about this quote from HYM?

O’Brien said HYM has gone as far as it can on affordability. The average apartment at Suffolk Downs would cost about $500,000 to build, he estimated. Given the location at the far tip of East Boston, he said, market-rate units aren’t likely to command high enough rents to subsidize additional affordable housing.
My layperson thoughts are as follows:

1) $500k per apartment seems high, no?
2) I think they're underestimating demand (probably intentional) for apartments in an all new construction neighborhood with two stops on the transit line with arguably the most capacity in the network.
 

Equilibria

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Beton, I know you've been advocating for more affordable housing for this development. What do you think about this quote from HYM?



My layperson thoughts are as follows:

1) $500k per apartment seems high, no?
2) I think they're underestimating demand (probably intentional) for apartments in an all new construction neighborhood with two stops on the transit line with arguably the most capacity in the network.
You didn't ask me, but you reminded me of my favorite absurd tidbit from that article: O'Brien is pleading poverty because he can ONLY ask $2,400 for a one-bedroom apartment, here on the edge of the swamp. He would get SO MUCH MORE in the Seaport.

$2400 per month for a one-bedroom is a highish price in Cambridge. He's complaining he can only ask for Harvard Square rents in Revere.
 

Beton Brut

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^ I think the $500K figure is utter nonsense.

I like Tom O’Brien a lot. He’s listened to the community, and modified HYM’s plans to accommodate abutters on Waldemar Avenue. But he’s in this to make a profit for his investors. The mayor and city council have roles to play in this drama. We’ll see who shows up and what costumes they’re wearing.
 

Beton Brut

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As I've clearly stated in other threads, I believe that private profit and public good are not incompatible concepts. It's also true that "profit" and "good" are subject to measurement by many different yardsticks in different hands.

As I continue to read and hear preposterous statements by some of my neighbors bemoaning the defeat of the Suffolk Downs casino proposal, I remain hopeful that something far more valuable to East Boston, Revere, Winthrop, Chelsea, and the rest of the region can be achieved on this site. It will require revolutionary thinking and evolutionary patience.
 

Lrfox

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^ I think the $500K figure is utter nonsense.

I like Tom O’Brien a lot. He’s listened to the community, and modified HYM’s plans to accommodate abutters on Waldemar Avenue. But he’s in this to make a profit for his investors. The mayor and city council have roles to play in this drama. We’ll see who shows up and what costumes they’re wearing.
Thanks. That's what I thought too - Block 8 at Assembly is a $160 Million project with 500 units. Or $320k per unit. I can't imagine why it would cost $180k more per unit at Suffolk Downs.
 

JumboBuc

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Thanks. That's what I thought too - Block 8 at Assembly is a $160 Million project with 500 units. Or $320k per unit. I can't imagine why it would cost $180k more per unit at Suffolk Downs.
That's just the cost of the apartment building construction though. When you factor in all the other costs of a large-scale development that don't lead directly to revenues (land (which is big), roads, parks, infrastructure, job-training funds, other public amenities, etc.) the per unit cost for the development as a whole has nowhere to go but up.
 

stellarfun

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A better measure is cost per square foot, not average cost per unit, as unit sizes vary by project.

Emmanuel spent $140 million to construct 267,500 gsf of building. On land it owned, with very little infrastructure cost. Roughly, >$500 a sq ft.

Holy Cross is spending $30 million on a 52,000 gsf recreation building, the type of open-space building that should mostly be walls and roof. Scaling up to Emmanuel, 5x this HC building would be 260,000 gsf, and a linear projection of the cost would be $150 million.
 
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JANAM

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Rover

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Shirley interviews Tom O'Brien on avoiding the mistakes of the Seaport, i.e., too little residential., and only high-end residential.
Read it yesterday and its a bit shoddy. For the life of me I'll never understand why people in general and an alleged business reporter in particular can't figure out that market rate housing is going to dominate all developments because of the cost of building in the city - itself a function of high land costs and the vig you have to pay to get anything done. So, for Shirley and anybody else, you can either 1) let the developer build without all the adds ons and insist on a good design, 2) pile on requirements to fund everything under the sun and then get a bland and boxy development or whatever else is cheaper to build. Its an either/or proposition and educated people ought to be smart enough to figure this out by now.
 

Equilibria

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Shirley interviews Tom O'Brien on avoiding the mistakes of the Seaport, i.e., too little residential., and only high-end residential.
I stopped taking this seriously at:

“Fan Pier from a planning and urban design perspective is a disaster,” acknowledged O’Brien. “The Fan Pier buildings are too tall and close together. There is no step back from the water. The open space needs to be way more public and connected.”
The buildings in the Seaport are too tall? I'm not a fetishist, but are you f-ing high, Tom?

Also, the urban planning "disaster" at Fan Pier is considering Fan Pier alone as an urban planning effort. It's 6 blocks on either side of a single street. It does not need "connected open space", it needs to be incorporated into the open space plan for the whole Seaport, some of which might be located at Fan Pier. Actually, I'd say Fan Pier serves its purpose in the larger plan pretty well as a dense, tall-ish canyon branching off of the main drag.

In general, the suburban vision implied by this statement makes me both happy that Tom's next project is far from Downtown and lucky that this ethos didn't apply at the Government Center Garage.
 
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Equilibria

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Ugh, why are Bostonians so friggin provincial. If it weren't for airport height restrictions, it would make sense for Seaport to be much taller given its proximity to downtown.
I think his is a different provincialism - he doesn't see anything beyond his own development site. Fan Pier isn't a small part of a larger neighborhood, it's a neighborhood in itself and who cares where it is.

Typical developer mindset.
 

tangent

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I appreciate a good sales job... he is turning all the constraints of the site into positives, which is important to getting the thing built, but the truth is that regardless of the proximity to Boston and the two Blue Line stations this location doesn't have the additional necessary attributes to be a Seaport type of redevelopment or attract that kind of capital investment.

We are talking about a few blocks of low rise buildings to start near the T stations which they can use to boot strap additional capital for the follow-on phases. Yes the two cities should be looking to make sure the developer is maximizing the potential of the site, but this is not a new seaport district and was never going to be.

I wish them good luck and I look forward to seeing it coming together over the years, but everyone including the city planners, politicians and local residents should have somewhat realistic expectations about what this redevelopment is going to do for East Boston and Revere and it isn't going to provide a windfall, just hopefully a nice few blocks on each sides of the wetland area with some good mix of uses.
 

odurandina

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The buildings in the Seaport are too tall? I'm not a fetishist, but are you f-ing high, Tom?

Also, the urban planning "disaster" at Fan Pier is considering Fan Pier alone as an urban planning effort. It's 6 blocks on either side of a single street. It does not need "connected open space", it needs to be incorporated into the open space plan for the whole Seaport, some of which might be located at Fan Pier. Actually, I'd say Fan Pier serves its purpose in the larger plan pretty well as a dense, tall-ish canyon branching off of the main drag.

In general, the suburban vision implied by this statement makes me both happy that Tom's next project is far from Downtown and lucky that this ethos didn't apply at the Government Center Garage.

nicely done. couldn't have dreamed of saying it all this well. i'll only add; i think O'brien took advantage of not having a saddle at the Seaport stable to be able to spew the garbage nimby talking points to demonstrate how enlightened he is compared to the the Philistines who dared bring a minimal/modest canyon to a city woefully lacking in dense, built out office development...... and that he'll be a faithful guardian that nothing of the sort shall happen to the virgin Suffolk Downs wastelands.

His sales job is transparent and phony.
 

curcuas

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Hating on Fan Pier is lunacy. It has one of the nicest parks in Boston at the end, one that's packed all the time, dense development, narrow interior streets that are pleasant to walk down, and lots of ground floor activation. The problems with the Seaport and other places are that they're not _more_ like Fan Pier.
 

whighlander

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Give it time -- they are still trying to figure out what to do with 100 Acres of land within a couple of subway stops of a major international airport

They thought that they had a plan based on Jeff Bezos settling in with Amazon and millions of sq of offices -- but their "back-up" idea for lots of residences was never very carefully worked out

What they should do is build a couple of complexes [an Echelon-scale cluster of buildings with about 1000 units], lay out some streets and sell some of land on the streets to other developers

I think the Wonderland development will provide a good prototype for Suffolk when the old dog track is sold and someone comes forward with a coherent plan for development in Revere
 

Czervik.Construction

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Do they have the same FAA height restrictions here as the seaport? I am sure there are some zoning stuff to go along with that, but wondered if there is an imaginary chalk line snapped in the sky across this site. Amazing to have another large open space to build housing.
 

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