A Little Late, But Welcome to Massachusetts, Steve!

WynnEverettIt appears that the lengthy, sometimes contentious, legal battle between Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is over. A “surrounding community” agreement was reached by both parties for the development of an Everett casino. The agreement includes:

  • $31 million over 15 years for community impact
  • $25 million over 10 years for Sullivan Square infrastructure improvements
  • $11 million for traffic mitigation in Charlestown
  • $250,000 for a regional working group on a “long-term fix” for Sullivan Square
  • a “good faith effort” to purchase $20 million annually over 15 years from Boston businesses
  • $1 million for reimbursement of Boston’s professional (legal) expenses.

Wynn Resorts Everett will be a $1.7 billion, five-star, premier destination resort with a 600 all-suite room hotel in Everett, located off Lower Broadway, at the site of the heavily contaminated, former Monsanto Chemical plant. Millions of dollars will be invested to clean and remediate the site and to construct infrastructure and traffic betterments.

The Commonwealth will receive a licensing fee of $85 million, along with 25% of gross gaming revenues, which are estimated to be $260 million annually.

There will be 4,000 full time jobs, as well as over 3,600 construction jobs.

For Everett:

  • $30 million in advanced payments for a Community Enhancement Fund payable during the construction period
  • $5 million Community Impact Fee, increasing annually
  • $20 million for real estate taxes, increasing annually (almost 25% of the city’s tax base)
  • $250,000 contribution to Everett Citizens Foundation
  • $50,000 annual payment to purchase vouchers/gift certificates from Everett businesses to be distributed by Wynn as part of its loyalty programs
  • An estimated $2.5 million per year in hotel and restaurant taxes
  • An active waterfront park with a winter garden and harbor walk will be created

That’s quite a financial commitment by an out-of-state company to the Commonwealth. In case you haven’t heard it before, welcome to Massachusetts!

A Great Start for Economic Development Under the Baker/Polito Administration

BakerGovernor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito just filed the administration’s Economic Development bill with $1 billion to be invested over the next five years into economic development, housing and job training across the Commonwealth.

A core principal of this legislation is to take various existing programs and make enhancements to them so that they become more widely used, more effective, recapitalized, and more user-friendly:

  • MassWorks ($500 million proposed capital authorization): Reauthorizes a capital grant program that provides municipalities and other public entities with public infrastructure grants to support economic development and job creation.
  • Brownfields Redevelopment Fund ($75 million proposed capital authorization): Moves funding for the state’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to the capital program, providing a reliable long-term funding stream for a fund that is the Commonwealth’s primary tool for facilitating the redevelopment of contaminated properties.
  • Housing-Related Tax Increment Financing: Supports housing production in town centers by reforming a seldom-used local-only smart growth tax incentive program, removing onerous regulations, and allowing communities to set their own affordability requirements.
  • Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) Reform: Supports the development of market-rate housing in Gateway Cities by allowing credits to support new construction, and by raising the formula that sets housing development incentives.
  • I-Cubed Reform: Reforms the I-Cubed infrastructure program by removing unnecessary program requirements (such as eliminating the per-municipality cap on the number of projects that may participate and raising the aggregate limit of funds from the I-cubed program that may be used in any one municipality from 31% to 50%) building flexibility into the program, and aligning program requirements with the demonstrated project pipeline.
  • Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) Reforms: Builds accountability in the state’s primary job-creation incentive program by strengthening the link between the issuance of tax credits, and job creation that would not otherwise occur; adds flexibility to the incentive program by eliminating obsolete formula-driven incentive categories, and by creating a new Extraordinary Development Opportunity designation.

In addition, the bill creates two important provisions:

  • Site Readiness Fund ($25 million proposed capital authorization): Advances regional job creation by creating a new fund for site assembly and pre-development activities (including site assessment and cleanup) that support regionally significant commercial or industrial development opportunities.
  • “Starter Home” Zoning: Incentivizes the creation of smaller, denser, and more affordable single-family homes by creating a new starter home option under the Chapter 40R smart growth housing program. These projects will also allow the municipality to be eligible for school reimbursements under Chapter 40S.
  • Parking Management Districts: Aligns local parking policies with broader economic development priorities by enabling municipalities to opt into creating demand-based parking fees, and allowing parking fees to support capital improvements in designated districts, like downtowns.

In addition, there are new programs with a Massachusetts Innovation Initiative, Workforce Development, and Economic Competitiveness.

We are very supportive of the bill, which contains many of NAIOP’s priorities. This legislation will be one of NAIOP’s top priorities for the remainder of the legislative session.

Welcome to Your New Home, General Electric

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The Greater Boston region’s research and higher education institutions are the envy of most of the world. While financial incentives helped seal the General Electric deal, this was not a cost-driven determination. It was a desire by the company to be housed in an innovation ecosystem that can provide the highest levels of skilled talent and technology. And, as a company doing business worldwide, GE will become an integral part of the local culture that successfully produces new ideas, products and technologies.

Kudos to Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh! This is a clear endorsement for the Commonwealth’s and the City‘s ability to market the region and all it has to offer to a business that could have relocated anywhere in the country (even in locations that could have provided greater financial incentives). The Legislature also deserves recognition for the important economic development bills passed over the last 6 years, which provided many of the tools needed to attract and close the deal with GE.

We may not have an Olympics here in Boston to remind the world that we are a global leader, but we do have the vote of a $130 billion high-tech industrial company (the 8th largest U.S. corporation) who will bring over 800 jobs to the “Innovation” Seaport District. Welcome home, General Electric.

My Top Ten Predictions for 2016

2015-6

With one of the best years for the commercial real estate industry almost behind us, what does 2016 look like?  Here are my predictions for the coming year:

1.    Neither casino (Springfield and Everett) will get their final clearances and will certainly not start construction.

2.    The Fed will make another move up in the interest rates.

3.    Foreign investment will dominate investments in commercial properties in the Greater Boston area, but local buyers will still be the major high-end condo buyer.

4.    The Green Line extension will be redesigned at a lower projected cost and will move forward.

5.    Some Boston or Cambridge office leases will hit $90 PSF gross.

6.    The Northern Avenue Bridge will be approved to accommodate vehicular access.

7.    A major office lease will be penned for either of the spec Seaport buildings (Pier 4 or 121 Seaport Boulevard).

8.    A developer will be selected for the Winthrop Square garage site.

9.    Patriots win the Super Bowl!

10.    The Republican presidential convention will not reach consensus on the first 5 ballots.

By the way, here were my predictions for 2015. I think I did pretty well, don’t you (well, other than the hurricane!)?

1.    Foreign buyers will outspend domestic investors for Boston and Cambridge properties and will make a dent in some communities along 128 (e.g. Burlington and Waltham). They will also be a major buyer of Boston condos.

2.    Boston properties will be seeing a record number of office properties changing hands with some of those properties having already transferred ownership within the last 3 years.

3.    No surprise that office rental rates in Boston and the surrounding areas will be increasing. I predict a minimum of 10% over this year. Apartment rents will continue to rise with some resistance in the newest buildings.

4.    The Wynn Casino construction project will not be starting in 2015.

5.    There will be one speculative office building announced in Cambridge, that’s it.

6.    Design firms will have their busiest year renovating spaces and providing greater efficiency for existing tenants.

7.    Construction costs are going to be up substantially, especially in downtown Boston, with greater difficulties getting multiple competitive subcontractor bids.

8.    Boston will experience a major hurricane this coming Fall with substantial flooding due to storm surge.

9.    The Federal Reserve will finally raise rates.

10.    Boston will be selected by the US Olympic Committee to represent the US bid for the Summer Olympics.

 

Housing Costs May Cost Us Our Young Talent

This post originally appeared in the Boston Business Journal on November 20, 2015.

ApartmentsIn the coming years, the Massachusetts economy may be at serious risk. The Commonwealth’s most valuable resource is its educated, skilled talent. Maintaining that resource is essential for continued economic growth. However, there is a threat which is making that goal harder and harder to achieve. Massachusetts has one of the highest housing costs in the nation – a significant barrier for talent recruitment and retention. Without an adequate supply of workforce housing, Massachusetts may soon lose that talent to other, more affordable, markets.

The UMass Donahue Institute’s Population Estimates Program concluded that the state’s population will increase by nearly 300,000 over a 20-year period. Good news, but the population of Massachusetts grew only by 3.1 percent between 2000 and 2010, while the U.S. population increased by 9.7 percent. Of concern, the study also projects an increasingly older population for the state.

Though a good portion of Massachusetts’ growth is driven by a net natural increase (number of births greater than deaths), a larger share of the growth is attributed to net immigration. Looking more closely, there is a net domestic outflow of residents (more people moved out of Massachusetts than into it from other parts of the U.S.), offset by a large number of international immigrants.

This is occurring during a boom time for the Greater Boston region, while the rest of the country, with a few exceptions, is still working its way out of the recession. Another way of looking at it is that, for the past few years, there have not been many job opportunities attracting our younger workers away from the state.

It was not that long ago that most of the country was experiencing stronger job growth than Massachusetts. As documented in a 2003 University of Massachusetts/MassINC report, Mass. Migration, over 200,000 more domestic residents moved out of Massachusetts than moved into the state between 1990 and 2002. And then, between 2002 and 2004, that imbalance became worse.

Fortunately, at that time, foreign immigrants helped to offset these population losses, but they frequently arrived with lower levels of education and skills than those who were leaving. Those departing tended to be younger, better educated, and more likely to be employed in a knowledge-intensive industry.

These trends will have substantial workforce and business implications and should be a call to action. The costs of both rental and for sale housing have been accelerating, reaching record highs. More and more young individuals and families are being priced out of the market. In some cases, the problem is restrictive zoning, other municipalities are shunning any housing that increases the school population, and in some markets, the cost of construction makes workforce housing uneconomical.

The solutions may be difficult, political, and costly, but without action at the state and local levels, the future of the Massachusetts economy is at risk.

Event Recap: Leadership Lunch + Learn at 101 Seaport

The following blog post was written by Chloe Louise Bouscaren, Marketing and Business Development at CBT Architects.

“An Inventive Setting to Spark Inventive Thinking”

IMG_20151111_122627151On Wednesday, Nov 9th NAIOP hosted a Members-Only Leadership Luncheon at 101 Seaport Boulevard, the new home for PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multinational professional services network. PwC relocated 3000 employees from 125 High Street to Boston’s Seaport District. Shawn Hurley, the Executive Vice President and Regional Manager of SKANSKA USA Commercial Development hosted NAIOP on the building’s 7th floor, the only space that has yet to be leased. Shawn was joined by Charley Leatherbee, VP of Development; Levi Reilly, Director of Development; and Patrick Sousa, Manager of Development, who all played important roles in the success of this high-profile project.

IMG_20151111_121118778The newly constructed 17-story, 440,000 RSF, LEED Platinum state-of-the-art office building was developed by SKANKSA USA Commercial Development Team in Boston. Highlights included a chilled beam mechanical system, triple glazing curtain wall, 300 underground parking spaces, world class retail by WS Development, expansive views of the harbor and Seaport, conference and training centers, and virtually column free floorplates. 82% of the building is occupied by PwC, tenants Red Thread and Skanska will be joining them soon. NKGF’s Dave Martel and Bill Anderson are responsible for the leasing and deal negotiation.IMG_20151111_120951643_TOP

Located on what will be the new Seaport Square Green, 101 Seaport connects directly to Fan Pier Park, creating a continuous public space that reaches Boston Harbor and connects to the Harborwalk Grand civic lawn to support active recreation and public events.CBT2

SKANSKA is also currently working a neighboring 17-story office tower, 121 Seaport, as well as Watermark Seaport, a 300-unit residential complex both on neighboring parcels.CTjJnD2VAAAiuyx.jpg large

For those who have yet to hear Shawn’s presentations on SKANKSA’s developments in the Seaport and beyond, his confidence and presence is unparalleled. Shawn has an innate way of making an audience feel comfortable and that day, we all felt we were part of something big. SKANSKA is clearly making development history in Boston and Shawn and his group are leading that charge the titans of the real estate industry. Hats off gents.

Quick Project Stats
Project Cost: $290M
Project Duration: 26 months
PwC Employees: 3000 (20% more people in 12% less space)
Designer / Design Firm: Jonathan McGuiness, Jacobs Engineering Group

NAIOP’s on-going Leadership Lunch and Learn series is open only to Members and offers unparalleled access to top local real estate leaders. Attendees get an inside look at the area’s most active CRE companies and hear about their latest developments, recent activity, upcoming projects, and more. Not yet a NAIOP Member? Join today!

Fraunhofer CSE’s Living Lab – The Future of Sustainable & Energy Efficient Building Technology

LIving Lab

NAIOP’s Gavel members recently toured the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) Living Laboratory, a cutting-edge R&D center for the advancement of sustainable energy systems. Born out of a 2013 energy-retrofit of a 100-year-old building in the Channel Center neighborhood in South Boston, the Lab leverages cutting-edge design concepts and historic architecture alongside in-house research facilities, including a pilot solar module fabrication line, dedicated thermal testing laboratory, and extensive characterization/environmental testing resources. Its mission is to foster economic development through the commercialization of clean energy technologies for the benefit of society.

Besides providing clients with services like testing the energy efficiency of exterior wall designs and new photovoltaic panels, the building is an exhibit for new technologies in HVAC systems, lighting, and energy efficient fenestration.

Fraunhofer CSE’s Building Energy Technology Group applies its expertise in four main areas:

  • Working with clients from industry, academia and government to develop new products
  • Field testing of novel building technologies and materials
  • Evaluating product performance through laboratory testing, field deployments, and modeling, simulation, and analysis.
  • Demonstration projects to acquire real-world performance data

NAIOP members may be interested in learning more about the cutting edge research now underway at the Living Lab. Tours are available by appointment.