NAIOP Massachusetts Installs 2020 Leadership Team: Leslie Cohen to Serve as 2020 Chapter President, Sara Cassidy Moves to Board Chair; Special Awards Given

At its Annual Meeting on November 20, NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, elected a new President and Board members, along with a new Leadership Council. The Board includes the principals of many of the region’s leading commercial real estate firms.

Leslie Cohen, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Asset Management at Samuels & Associates, was elected President of NAIOP Massachusetts for 2020.  In this capacity, she will work closely with NAIOP staff and Chapter leadership to guide the organization. Sara Cassidy of AEW, who served as the 2019 President, will serve as Board Chair; Tom Andrews of Alexandria Real Estate Equites becomes President-Elect; Jessica Hughes of Tishman Speyer will serve as Treasurer; and Patrick McMahon of Federal Realty Investment Trust becomes Secretary.

“NAIOP is the voice for an industry that plays a critical role in the region’s economy and competitiveness. Our members are innovative, engaged in their communities and focused on ensuring that Massachusetts is a great place to work and live,” said Cohen.  “At the same time, we have a great opportunity to foster diversity across the field.  I look forward to collaborating with other senior NAIOP leaders to implement new initiatives that will cultivate a broader pipeline of talent interested in all aspects of the commercial real estate industry.”

Cohen has been part of the Samuels team for more than 17 years. She previously served as the President of CREW Boston (formerly NEWiRE) and has served on the Board of Trustees and the Building Committee at the West End House in Allston, on the Building and Grounds Committee at Tufts University, and, for the second time, will co-chair Heading Home’s Housewarming event. In 2013, Cohen was selected as a Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 honoree. In 2014 and 2018 she was honored as one of Bisnow’s Power Women in Commercial Real Estate.

“NAIOP’s volunteer leaders represent the best of this industry. NAIOP’s Executive Director Reesa Fischer and I are honored to work with professionals like Leslie in our efforts to advance and grow the industry,” said Tamara Small, CEO of NAIOP. “Their creativity and energy will allow our organization to address the needs of commercial real estate professionals while focusing on advocacy, education and professional development.”

The 2020 Leadership Council members include:

Chapter Affairs Chair: Michael Wilcox, The Bulfinch Companies, Inc.

Developing Leaders Chair: Alex Schultz, Davis Companies

Developing Leaders Vice Chair: Sam Campbell, JLL

Diversity Equity & Inclusion Chair: Taidgh McClory, TH McClory, LLP

Diversity Equity & Inclusion Vice Chair: Amanda Strong, MITIMCo

Government Affairs Chair: Carolyn Desmond, Skanska Commercial Development

Government Affairs Vice Chair: Matthew Snell, Nutter McClennen & Fish

Membership& Marketing Chair: Tina Snyder, DivcoWest

Membership& Marketing Vice Chair: Katherine Shoss, The Bulfinch Companies, Inc.

Program & Education Chair: Robert Borden, CBRE

Program& Education Vice Chair: Michael Buckley, Avison Young

Awards Chair: Allen Breed, MITIMCo

Golf Tournament Co-Chairs: Andrew Gallinaro, National Development and Sarah Lagosh, Eastdil Secured

Developing Leaders Board Liaison: Abby Mondani, Oxford Properties

Communications Chair: Wendy Pierce, Goldstein Pierce PR

Strategic Development Co-Chairs: Kerry Hawkins, JLL; Derrick Goodwin, Lee Kennedy Company; Dan McGrath, Berkeley Investments; Kathy McMahon, National Development and Adam Weisenberg, Sullivan & Worcester LLP

In addition, the following industry leaders joined the NAIOP Board for three-year terms:

Katharine Bachman, Gravestar

Marcella Barriere, Google

Kevin Benedix, Boston Global Investors

Lawrence Curtis, WinnDevelopment
Russell DiMartino, Skanska Commercial Development

Todd Fremont-Smith, Nordblom Company

Richard Galvin, CV Properties

David Goodhue, Colliers International

Taran Grigsby, Fidelity Real Estate

Timothy Guy, Clarion Partners

Andrew Hoar, CBRE

Shawn Hurley, Marcus Partners

Gary Kerr, Greystar

Sarah Lagosh, Eastdil

Charles Leatherbee, Trammel Crow Company

Douglas Manz, HYM Investments

Steve Marsh, MITIMCo

John Myers, Redgate

Tinchuck Ng, Cottonwood Management

Alex Schultz, The Davis Companies

Kirk Sykes, Accordia Partners

Joseph Zink, Atlantic Management

NAIOP Massachusetts also presented several special awards to select members who have made significant contributions to benefit the industry.  Sara Cassidy presented the 2020 President’s Award to Rob Borden of JLL in recognition of his exceptional leadership, strategic direction and vision as Vice-Chair of NAIOP’s Program Committee.  Larry Feldman of GZA was presented with the 2020 NAIOP Government Affairs Champion Award in recognition of his years of work on NAIOP’s Brownfields Redevelopment Committee.  His advocacy has resulted in countless laws and policies that encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites in Massachusetts.

The Annual Meeting was held prior to the start of the NAIOP/SIOR Annual Market Forecast, which included an economic overview by Kelly Whitman, Vice President of Investment Research at PGIM Real Estate, and market updates from Kristin Blount (Downtown), Executive Vice President, Colliers International; Robert Byrne (Suburbs), Managing Director, Cushman & Wakefield; Ben Coffin (Cambridge), Managing Director, JLL; Rick Schuhwerk (Industrial), Executive Managing Director, Newmark Knight Frank; and Chris Skeffington (Capital Markets), Senior Vice President, CBRE.

About NAIOP

NAIOP Massachusetts, which represents 1,650 members, is the leading organization for developers, owners, and investors of office, research & development, industrial, mixed use, multifamily, retail and institutional real estate in the Commonwealth.  NAIOP advocates for policies that advance commercial real estate while providing outstanding education and networking opportunities.

Changing the Game for Women in Commercial Real Estate

This post was written by Mike Hoban of Hoban Communications.

Ten years ago, when NAIOP Massachusetts launched its first ‘Women of Influence Luncheon’, the commercial real estate industry in Boston  (and NAIOP) looked pretty much like the floor of the U.S. Senate – approximately 10 percent women with few people of color. Today, the Boston CRE industry still very much resembles the Senate, but given that the number of women in that chamber has grown to 25 percent and people of color now constitute 10 percent of Senators, it is clearly a step in the right direction for both constituencies. For NAIOP (whose membership is now 27 percent women), that change has been reflected in leadership as well, with 20 of the 49 (40 percent) members on the board of directors for the 1,650 member organization are either women or people of color.

Last week, NAIOP again held its annual Women of Influence luncheon, hosted at the home office of Nutter McClennen & Fish, LLP in the Seaport. The sold out event attracted nearly 200 (mostly women) participants, and its theme, “Changing the Game for Women in Commercial Real Estate,” reflected just how much the conversation around women in the industry has changed in the last decade. “This is our tenth anniversary and we wanted to change things up,” said Reesa Fischer, executive director of NAIOP Massachusetts. “This is no longer about seeing what your career path is and how you get there. It’s about women providing opportunities for other women and strategies for achieving equitable workplaces.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Patti Fletcher, CEO of PSD Network LLC (which advises corporations and female executives), and author of “Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold”. The panel included Marcella Barrière, LEED AP, project executive for real estate & workplace services for Google; Leslie Cohen, COO and head of asset management for Samuels & Associates; Tinchuck Ng, managing director and co-head of investments at the Cottonwood Group; and Lauren Vecchione, senior VP for Colliers International.

Fletcher told the gathering that changing the workplace dynamic is not about just working harder or “leaning in more” – which has long been the go-to strategy for professional women in the workplace. Instead, she says, “We have to get real about what we’re facing, and we also have get real that blaming and shaming of men and trying to ‘fix’ them does not work. What does work is understanding where that systemic bias is and creating a new, more efficient and equitable status quo where everyone can thrive.”

Cohen emphasized the importance of mentorship and sponsorship for women, particularly those just entering the field. She joined CREW Boston (then NEWiRE) nearly two decades ago, and participated in a program that paired her with a female mentor in Dallas. The two worked together for a year on a development plan that was practical and “intentional about where I was going to go and how I was going to get there,” said Cohen. The mentor also stressed the importance of overcoming fears around networking, a skill which eventually led to her assuming the role of president of both CREW and NAIOP at different points in her career. And she still talks to her mentor on a monthly basis. “It’s been hugely beneficial to get advice and an outside opinion to help me not only to navigate, but to keep me challenging myself to keep growing,” said Cohen.

In addition to mentors, panelists discussed the importance of having advocates within the industry – both male and female – to support and champion them as difference makers. Barrière, who is African-American, said that due to the lack of black women in senior leadership positions in commercial real estate, there is a shortage of available mentors for her, so she seeks out advocates instead. “And the difference for me is, ‘Who is going to walk into the room when I’m not there and talk about what great work I did?’ A mentor is going to talk to me about how to overcome situations, and that’s a private conversation. That is coaching and that is guidance. An advocate is going to walk into the room when I’m not there and say, ‘This person has earned a shot. Their work is great and they need to be promoted or they need to be put on this project’.”

Vecchione added that women can become advocates for other women by practicing “echoing” during meetings. “One thing I was taught by Kristin (Blount, Collier executive VP/partner) was that we need to echo for one another,” she said. “When you’re not the only woman in the room, and you do have a good idea, it’s not always acknowledged, unfortunately. So what is helpful to your other female colleagues is just echoing what they’ve said if you do think it’s a good idea. And the more that we can do that, the more we have each other’s backs, and it can go a long way towards helping all of us.”

One of the difficulties for many professional women in the workplace, said Fletcher, is overcoming “imposter syndrome” – the belief that one is inadequate despite ample evidence to the contrary. Often fueled by perfectionism, Fletcher’s research indicates that imposter syndrome is three times more likely to be experienced by women than men, and seven times more likely by women of color. Multiple panelists shared that despite their track records of success (including being included on the prestigious NAIOP panel) they can still experience those feelings of inadequacy in the workplace.

Barrière suggested that the best way to overcome imposter syndrome is by “silencing it, calling it out, and just saying to (oneself), ‘If I was invited into this room, then I belong here,’ and leave it at that. Move forward from there without questioning that fact. On a level playing field, mindset and tenacity will win the day.”

Ng said the key to succeeding in the environment from an external standpoint is focusing on what really matters to the task at hand – and always bringing the conversation back to the deal. “You’ll get looked at differently. Trust me,” said Ng. “As someone who’s trained as an architect, is a woman and Chinese, I bring diversity to that room no matter what, and that’s my value-add. Call it out. Humor helps enormously, at least in my case, but at the end of the day, what’s going to get you the level of respect is going back to the point of, ‘this is a better solution because it generates ‘X’ return’.”

Vecchione and Ng both emphasized that while there are disadvantages to being a women or person of color in the industry, there are also a number of positives. Vecchione said that she focuses a lot more on the advantages because it’s what she can control, and reminded the audience that “we all have the ability to stand out in a crowd and create a brand for ourselves.” Ng suggested that one way to distinguish yourself from the pack was to carve out a niche. In her case, it was to become expert in cross-border tax implications for real estate acquisitions and dispositions. She told the audience that it was easier for her establish a level of confidence regarding expertise about cross border transactions, “because I look different, even though I’ve lived here for 25 years,” she joked, and encouraged the audience to “take what is sometime perceived as differences – I wouldn’t call them disadvantages – and ask yourself if that can become your niche.”

While the CRE industry and society as a whole has a long way to go in terms of equity along race and gender lines, Cohen sees a good deal of “forward progress” in commercial real estate. When she began her career with Samuels 17 years ago, she was often the only women in the room. Currently she is working on a development project with Harvard University where nearly all of the people in leadership positions are women. “If I can think of the future work that we have in front of us, it’s getting more women in the room, into that very close circle, who are making decisions, particularly hiring decisions – and I think that’s the important one that still needs to happen – but I think there’s been a lot of progress,” said Cohen.

Sudbury Power Line Fight Could Affect Development Deals Statewide

The following article, written by Jon Chesto, was first published in the October 2 online edition of The Boston Globe

At first glance, it might seem like a simple courtroom showdown between the MBTA and the Town of Sudbury over an underground power line.

But to the state’s major commercial real estate trade group, the fight that played out at the Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday is about much more.

NAIOP Massachusetts isn’t a party to the case. But it did weigh in — on the side of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and utility company Eversource — through a friend-of-the-court brief.

The reason? Should the state’s highest court side with the town, NAOIP worries that transfers of publicly owned properties across the state could grind to a halt.

To get this far in its appeal, the town homed in on the state’s “prior public use doctrine” — a common-law understanding that land already devoted to one public use can’t be changed to a different one without state legislation. A Land Court judge ruled in 2018 that the doctrine didn’t apply in the Sudbury case, because the land would be leased for a private use. The town appealed, and the SJC decided to take up the issue.

George Pucci, a lawyer for Sudbury, argued Tuesday that this is an unusual case, one that would not open the floodgates. He noted that much of the right-of-way had once been acquired by eminent domain for transportation purposes.

But the potential broader impact was on the minds of the justices, as their line of questioning made evident.

NAIOP got involved after the SJC put out a call for input in May. Of particular concern to the trade group: The judges said they wanted to review whether the public-use doctrine should be in effect for transfers of property that would lead to private uses.

That request  didn’t come out of left field. Pucci, in his initial appeals brief, argued it wouldn’t make sense to prohibit the transfer to an inconsistent public use while allowing the sale for an inconsistent private use. This, he wrote, would defeat the purpose of the doctrine: to protect public land from being converted to a different use without legislative approval.

Words like those can strike fear in the heart of any developer. Tamara Small, NAIOP’s chief executive, says a mandatory trip to the Legislature would open up a whole new layer of uncertainty and expense for public-private partnerships. Begging on Beacon Hill would bog down the development process, the mere prospect preventing many deals from happening in the first place.

In its brief, NAIOP offered a smattering of examples to emphasize some of these partnerships’ public benefits: an apartment complex in Chinatown with more than two dozen affordable units, clean energy from solar panels that dot state land along the Massachusetts Turnpike and other highways, the pending Polar Park stadium that will be built on city-owned property for the soon-to-be Worcester Red Sox.

What about Eversource? What public benefits would the electric utility offer with its deal? The company says its 9-mile Sudbury-to-Hudson line, mostly in a rail corridor, would bring nearly $9.4 million in lease payments to the T over 20 years. The line would help improve grid reliability in Greater Boston, with a side benefit of allowing a rail trail to be built along the stretch.

To the Sudbury town officials who authorized the litigation, these benefits don’t seem worth the adverse environmental impacts, such as damage to wetlands and wildlife habitats along the corridor.

Jessica Gray Kelly, NAIOP’s lawyer, says her client is agnostic on the fate of that project. But the association’s members do worry that the effects could ripple far and wide if the court decides legislative approval is needed for any change of use in a public property deal, not just for those in which control would be transferred to another public agency.

It would be a new world for real estate development in the state. Kelly demurs when asked how she thinks the court will react. But NAIOP’s insertion into this seemingly local fight shows the trade group is not taking any chances.

You can find NAIOP’s Amicus Brief and more information about the case by clicking here.

Seaport by Foot: Walking Tour Recap

Every year, NAIOP takes its members on a walking tour that explores the latest real estate development projects in a specific neighborhood. This year, NAIOP members toured the Seaport, where they had the chance to see recently opened buildings and get an invaluable sneak peek of what’s to come. A still evolving neighborhood, the Seaport has seen incredible investment in everything from office and lab space, to residences along the water, and innovative retail. The district is 23-acres of mixed-use zoning, including 10 acres of open space, and has become a new hub of commerce, culture, and innovation in the City of Boston.

Icon Theater

The sold-out walking tour kicked off at the Icon Theater. The group got a lesson on the history of the neighborhood from David Martel of Newmark Knight Frank, and an important reminder that what is happening in the Seaport now is the result of over 30 years of work from visionaries, investors, and developers who came together to transform the Seaport into what it is today. Yanni Tsipis of WS Development discussed the billions of dollars of public investment, including the Harbor cleanup and Big Dig, that catalyzed the growth of the Seaport. He also discussed his firm’s massive, transformative development, Seaport Square, including the forthcoming 88 Seaport, a mixed-use retail and office project, and 111 Harbor Way, future home to Amazon.    

121 Seaport Boulevard

The group then headed to 121 Seaport, home to PTC’s global headquarters and Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Developed by Skanska, the project officially opened earlier this year. Carolyn Desmond of Skanska discussed the development of this 17-story, 450,000 square foot elliptical tower, which included the discovery of a long-buried ship during construction! Marc Margulies of MPA then covered the cutting-edge design of the PTC headquarters.  The building’s unique shape provided increased opportunities to build out a truly unique space for the offices, providing optimal light and functionality.  Attendees then toured the PTC office, including its incredible rooftop terrace.

Photo of 121 Seaport
Bruce T. Martin Photography 508-655-7557 btm@bruceTmartin.com 154 East Central St Natick MA 01760

Harbor Way

Outside of 121 Seaport, Martin Zogran from Sasaki discussed his firm’s work to create an expansive public realm program, which weaves together a unique fabric of residences, offices, shops, restaurants, civic uses, and hotels.The master plan is designed to encourage walkability and alternative mobility options with 39% of the total project area being exclusively devoted to pedestrian-only open space. As an example, a tree-lined pedestrian path, Harbor Way, punctuated by plazas and amenity spaces serves as the district’s cultural corridor and north-south connector between the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC). Their work will bring a diverse mix of uses, pedestrian-oriented public space, and greater coherence and connectivity to the Seaport.

Photo of Harbor Way

EchelonSeaport

A quick walk across the street brought attendees to EchelonSeaport. Developer Michael Schumacher of The Cottonwood Group and Phil Casey of CBT gave an overview of this 1.33 million square foot community, featuring two condominium towers and one multifamily tower with 60,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor residential amenity spaces. The design, focused on the intersection of art and commerce through the lens of luxury hospitality, will include significant public space and promises to be a striking addition to the Boston skyline. With amenities for both towers ranging from pools to private dining rooms, EchelonSeaport promises to provide residents with much more than just a place to live.

Rendering of EchelonSeaport

The St. Regis Residences, Boston

Attendees then went to the former Whiskey Priest location, which will soon be the St. Regis Residences, Boston. Sean O’Grady of Cronin Development and Rebecca Eriksen of Elkus Manfredi Architects discussed the project, which broke ground in Fall 2018. The project faced a unique caveat in initial design – the property borders the Harbor on two sides. Rising to the challenge, the latest residential waterfront development in the Seaport promises to evoke nautical themes in every aspect of its architecture and décor. Currently slated to open in early 2021, the 114 residences will provide a highly curated experience, featuring signature design, dramatic views, an 8,000+ square foot bistro with additional terrace space, on-site spa, and other luxury amenities.

Rendering of The St. Regis Residences, Boston

Thomson Place

From there attendees went to the Seaport’s Fort Point Channel, where Jamie Carlin and Paul Connolly of Crosspoint Associates discussed the future of Thomson Place – a renovation and reinvigoration of one of the area’s historic warehouses. Scheduled to open in Fall 2019, the project will include office, retail and mixed-use space. Currently home to Trillium Brewing, Bartaco, and a new public plaza, the project brings new energy to the neighborhood, while preserving its historic character.

Rendering of Thomson Place

Networking

The group wrapped up the day at The Grand for a networking cocktail hour sponsored by WS Development. Attendees had the opportunity to chat with brokers, project teams and each other to wrap up a successful tour with a well-deserved cocktail in hand. Plans are already underway for next year’s tour. We look forward to seeing you then!  

The Science of Success: Bus Tour Recap

This post was written by BLDUP and originally appeared on their site.

Now in its 16th year, the NAIOP bus tour took several hundred CRE professionals on an info-packed trip through Waltham, Watertown, Newton, and Needham last week. The theme of the tour, the science of success, highlighted the continued growth of the 128 corridor as a hub of innovation in both the tech and life science fields. With the strong talent pool coming out of the areas many top colleges and universities, companies look to Boston to plant their flag. However, with extremely limited availability in Cambridge and rents continuing to rise, Boston’s tech highway is a more affordable option. All of these employees also need housing options, spurring development in the multi-family sector. Despite a few hiccups along the way (I survived the fabled orange bus) it was another enjoyable and educational NAIOP program.

Highlights of the Tour

225 Wyman
As part of the Hobbs Brook Office Park, 225 Wyman will be the largest contiguous Class A office building along the Route 128 “technology belt”. Currently, demo is wrapping up on the site and construction is set to be complete in 2021. The building, designed by Gensler, will include both office and lab space and the “H” shape of the allows for many leasing configurations.

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A rendering of the upcoming project at 225 Wyman Street.

828-830 Winter Street
Many life science companies in the market for space, need it ASAP! Looking to fill this type of demand King Street Properties has been building lab buildings like 828 Winter Street on spec. 828 Winter, completed in August 2018, is outfitted with a full MEP structure and column spacing to allow for an 11ft lab bench. The King Street team also discussed their upcoming project, Nexus Allston at the Allston Innovation Center. Currently, under review with the City of Boston, the development would include 3 buildings to feature office/lab, retail, and residential space. King Street expects to complete permitting by the end of this year and have first units/space ready for occupancy in Q1 2022.

Gauge
Hilco has completely renovated this 1940s-era brick-and-beam structure to provide creative office and R&D development space. Historic features of the building including high ceilings with expansive windows, skylights, and exposed brick interior walls. Utilities throughout the project were upgraded and a fitness center added to meet modern tenant expectations.

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Bus tour attendees arrive at The Gauge in Waltham.

Elan Union Market
Developed and Managed by Greystar, this 282 unit project welcomed residents in June of last year and is currently wrapping up construction on the final residences. The luxury development features numerous amenities including an art gallery, pool, and resident lounge. The project is currently 55% occupied and 75% leased.

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One of the resident lounge areas at Elan Union Market in Watertown.

Kendrick
At The Kendrick in Needham, the development team at Toll Brothers set out to create a not-so-typical apartment community. Their goal was to design a building with a high-end residential hotel feel that “made you look” with unique artwork, amenities, and finishes. Amenities at the Kendrick include an outdoor beer garden, fitness center with climbing walls, and a revolutionary coffee maker that allows residents to order coffee from their phones (said to cost around $10,000!).

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One of the many unique common spaces at The Kendrick.

Northland Newton Development
Our final stop of the day was at the historic Saco-Pettee Mill building to hear more about Northland’s vision to create a vibrant live, work, play gateway in Newton’s Upper Falls.  The proposed project calls for 800 residential units, 173,000 square feet of office space, and 115,000 square feet of retail. 9.8 acres of open space within the development including 7 parks will provide ample green space for residents and visitors and a new streetscape will allow for easy access for pedestrians and bicyclists. By converting an aging, obsolete industrial complex into a dynamic community, Northland aims to promote smart growth within Newton.

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A rendering of the proposed Northland Newton Project.

BPDA Director Brian Golden Speaks on Boston’s Development Climate at NAIOP’s Government Affairs Luncheon

This guest blog post was written by Meghan Doherty of BLDUP.

At a recent NAIOP Government Affairs program, hosted at the office of Nutter McClennen & Fish, Boston Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) Director Brian Golden discussed Boston’s current development climate and the upcoming planning initiatives his office is pursuing.

Director Golden opened with a brief history of the BPDA crediting Mayor John B. Hynes for starting the office in the late 1950s. During that time, as the middle class was moving away from cities into the suburbs, Boston saw its population drastically declining, which led to the creation of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The newly created entity was tasked with promoting development in order to attract economic investment in Boston. It worked. Between 1980 and 2010, Boston’s population grew at a rate of around 1,500 people each year. Since 2010, Boston’s population growth has skyrocketed gaining around 8,000 additional residents each year.

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In fact, Boston’s rapid growth in the past 10 years has led to the BPDA adjusting its population projections. In 2014, just over 709,000 citizens were projected in the City of Boston by 2030. Revised projections have increased that number to 759,000. This population growth is driving development and planning throughout the city. Since Mayor Walsh has taken office, around $50M new square feet of development have been approved. Mayor Walsh’s administration has also increased the city’s housing goals from 53,000 to 69,000 new units of housing. Currently, Boston is ahead of pace for this goal since much of the development in the past few years has been residential.

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Director Golden also discussed the importance of the IDP requirements currently in place to bring middle income and affordable housing to the city. Since the IDP program began in 2000, nearly 2,600 income-restricted housing units have been built and over $137M has been raised in the Inclusionary Housing Fund. When asked about the possibility of increasing the IDP requirement from the existing 13%, Director Golden cited two examples from recent trips to Seattle and San Francisco. In San Francisco, IDP requirements are high, around 20%, and this burden has halted many projects. This policy, Director Golden believes, is an overreach. As he said, “20% of nothing is nothing.”  In Seattle, however, the IDP requirement is 11% and working well. His goal for Boston is to ensure that projects can move forward while also providing for the maximum amount of housing the market will allow.

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Other highlights from Director Golden’s presentation included:

  • New projects are increasing property tax revenue for the city at a record pace, and these are benefits that flow to all Bostonians. For 2019, the BPDA estimates an additional $77M in tax revenue from new projects alone. These funds are crucial to the city budget to maintain the high quality of life Boston residents expect.
  • Diversity is top of mind for the BPDA’s actions in the city. All RFPs for public land will include criteria to promote diversity and inclusion. The BPDA expects to see a robust plan for diversity and inclusion through all phases of the development including the development/design team through the workforce building the project.
  • The BDPA’s  Resilient Boston Harbor initiative, which will kick off public engagement this month, will focus on how all different types of existing and new projects can deal with rising sea levels. The BPDA’s goal is to use this opportunity to elevate the public realm. Golden cited Moakley Park as an example. Plans here will rework Columbia Road and Day Boulevard to build a natural barrier to deal with the predicted sea level rise while also creating a world-class park. 10% of the city’s capital budget will be devoted to building out pieces of elevated public infrastructure like this project.
  • The BPDA currently is working on 16 major planning initiatives across the city. A full list can be found here http://www.bostonplans.org/planning/planning-initiatives

During the Q+A, when asked what the biggest hurdles are for Boson to reach its 2030 goals, Director Golden cited transportation and affordability. Currently, his office is working on the Go Boston mobility study and stressed that ensuring quality public transit will be key to ensuring continued growth.

Director Golden’s presentation was a thorough overview of the state of development in Boston. It gave a positive view of the future of Boston’s economic and community-oriented future, and his comments gave attendees important insight into the goals of the BPDA over the next few years. It is clear that Director Golden has a holistic understanding of the landscape in Boston, and will continue to work with NAIOP members and other key stakeholders to plan for Boston’s future, while respecting its past.

CoWorking: Collaboration, Configuration and Considerations

This guest blog post was written by Meghan Doherty of BLDUP.

Elisif_20190130_3367The Coworking industry grew 50% between 2016 and 2018 and the variety of options within this market segment is staggering. Boston is no exception, currently, there are around 2.3 million square feet of coworking space in Boston and Cambridge. Last week NAIOP Massachusetts hosted a lively panel discussion covering all things coworking. The panel was moderated by Kristin Blount of Colliers with guests Jessica Hughes of Tishman Speyer, Bryan Koop of Boston Properties, Karina Silvester of Gensler, and Craig Robinson of WeWork.

Aaron Jodka, Chief Economist/Director of Research at Colliers International set the stage for the panel by providing some stats on coworking in Boston and around the globe. While Boston has one of the fastest coworking markets in the country, London and NYC have the largest total markets with WeWork as the single largest tenant in each market. Jodka and his research team certainly expect coworking to continue to grow while lenders in capital markets determine how best to handle deals involving coworking spaces.

As the market grows, traditional office landlords are finding ways to get into the coworking game. Jessica Hughes & Brian Koop discussed how their companies are moving into the coworking space by transforming some of their limited vacant space into a coworking option. Tishman Speyer’s coworking product, Studio, will focus on hospitality and tenant service. Their first foray into this space just opened at Rockefeller Center in NYC with the next location coming to 125 High Street in Boston. Tishman Speyer is working with Gensler on the fitouts for these spaces to ensure a high quality of design.

Boston Properties has transformed a floor of the Prudential Center into Flex – their version of coworking, which is less about shared space and more about more flexible lease terms and ready-to-occupy space. Koop told the crowd the new space has been very popular, being fully leased in its first 1-2 months. As Koop mentioned, the average lifespan of a company is getting shorter and the market is moving away from the “long and strong” leases of old. The goal of Flex is to cater to clients looking for leases in the 1-5 year range.

WeWork, now the We Companies, has been the leader in the space and continues to grow their brand across the globe with locations now in 100 cities. Craig Robinson, WeWork’s new Global Head of Powered by We Services, discussed some of the stats behind the company’s mission to “Create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living”. Generally, 85% of employees are not engaged and around 51% are on the lookout for another job. Employers are finally beginning to realize that the future of work is going to be measured by how people feel and not by the old standards of productivity. Many Fortune 500 companies are already getting ahead of this trend with over 150 of them signed on as WeWork Enterprise members. Enterprise services allow these large companies the ability to offer more creative environments, the flexibility to have offices in multiple cities and the freedom to grow to new markets.

From a design point of view, Karina Silvester of Gensler discussed the broad variations of coworking space. Within this spectrum, there are a few common factors including the need for lots of flexibility along with varied activity-based workstations.  Gensler has designed numerous coworking spaces both large and small including the new Reebok headquarters in Boston. For their new space, Reebok wanted a more open plan/flexible space instead of the numerous small offices they had in the past. As Karina also pointed out “the desire to cowork will extend to digital realms as people are working all the time.”

The panelists agreed the coworking model is here to stay and even in the event of a downturn flexibility will prove important. WeWork continues to diversify its portfolio and offerings and other commercial landlords are following suit as the market shifts. Employee expectations are changing and to attract and retain top talent, employers and in turn, landlords are moving to this flexible, community space.Podcast_Ep1

Can’t get enough coworking? Craig, Karina, and Kristin continue their discussion on The Big Dig, BLDUP & NAIOP’s new CRE podcast. Listen now!