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This Week in Boston Real Estate: Southie megaproject, landmark logos and more

by Michael M. Mazek

Plans for what could be the biggest real estate development project in Boston’s modern history have been scaled back in response to community concerns. Hilco Redevelopment Partners and Redgate Capital Partners submitted a new filing with the Boston Planning and Development Agency related to their plans for the 15-acre site of the decommissioned Edison power plant in on L Street in South Boston. The mixed-use project originally proposed 2.1 million square feet of residential and commercial space to be built over a 15-year period. But residents and city officials balked at the initial scope of the project when it was first pitched a year ago. The new proposal includes 250 fewer apartment and condo units than the last plan, but still involves 1,344 total residential units, 344 hotel rooms, nearly 1,400 parking spaces and a total of 1.93 million square feet of total floorspace. Even after scaling things back, the L Street power station project promises to be among Boston’s most ambitious, and potentially disruptive, real estate developments in recent memory.

In other local real estate news this week:

  • The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce named Acorn, Inc. the 2018 APEX Small Business of the Year. Acorn is a family-owned and operated real estate development company based in Massachusetts. “Acorn was recognized for its commitment to sustainable and renewable energy as an example of their forward thinking,” according to a news release on the award. “They currently have 2 megawatts of solar panels across the roofs of all properties.”
  • Boston-based tech startup Starry announced Aug. 9 that it would partner with the Boston Housing Authority to provide free high-speed wireless internet service to residents of its Ausonia Apartments public housing complex. Ausonia, in the city’s North End, comprises 100 units and caters primarily to low-income disabled and elderly residents. Starry will also donate five new computers as part of a communal computer lab available to residents. “Access to high-speed broadband is critical for education, communication, and personal and professional development, and yet today, many people still lack access to a basic, affordable, and reliable internet connection,” said Starry CEO and co-founder, Chet Kanojia in a press release. “We can’t sit on the sidelines and hope things get better.”
  • The Urban Land Institute’s Fall Meeting will be held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center Oct. 8-11. According to the ULI, the Fall Meeting attracts some 6,000 attendees each year from all sectors of the real estate industry to discuss the responsible use of land to create sustainable communities around the world. The meeting’s keynote speaker will be Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business known for his public speaking and corporate board leadership.
  • Plans to redevelop the site of the famed Citgo sign in Kenmore Square are making slow progress, although the Fenway Park landmark should remain as it is surrounded by a modern office building. In 2016, developer Related Beal purchased the buildings at 660 Beacon Street that house the sign, sparking speculation that the trademark would be removed. Under the latest proposal, the site would be redeveloped into an eight-story office and retail building called the Commonwealth Building. However, Curbed reports that Related Beal and the city’s Civic Design Commission have been sparring lately over the aesthetic of the building, which the latter says does not match the character of the surrounding neighborhood. Regardless, the Citgo sign is expected to remain on top of whatever structures are built around it, just as it has since it was erected in 1940.

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