Office Building Proposed for 321 Harrison Avenue

By Seth Daniel

In a bit of a change in plans, an eight-story office building has been proposed for the space atop an existing parking garage at 321 Harrison Ave. – a plan that departs from the developer’s initial desire to build residential units on both the existing office tower and the parking garage.

The proposal lies within the New York Streets neighborhood and will have a public meeting by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) on Weds., June 29, at 6 p.m. in the Top Floor Cafe of the 1000 Washington St. office building.

“At the outset of the Project, the Proponent considered building new residential units on the site,” read the recent expanded Project Notification Filing (PNF) to the BRA. “However, after several months of study, it was determined that office use would better complement the site, the immediate neighborhood, and the South End due to the abundance of residential units currently being built in the area….It was determined the existing office building and garage provide an excellent base for further development and should remain. Therefore, the proposed 321 Harrison Avenue office building has been designed as an addition to the existing garage.”

The final result of the development will leave an office building fronting the street and climbing up 11 stories – with eight stories of office space and three stories of existing parking. It will be slightly taller than the existing 1000 Washington St. office building.

The existing office building will also be connected to the new office building through a reconstructed lobby that currently exists to connect the garage to the building.

The developer, Nordblom Development of Burlington, MA, reported that it felt an office use will further contribute to the vibrancy that now exists on the once-empty street. More than anything, though, the developer felt it would be a critical connection to downtown Boston by providing office space in an area that is increasingly residential.

“The Project will complement the existing office uses in 1000 Washington Street, as well as the abundance of new residential units in the immediate neighborhood,” read the filing. “This additional office use will fit well with the activity on Herald Street and the Massachusetts Turnpike a little further to the north, and will create a stronger connection between Downtown Boston and the South End. The pedestrian connectivity and circulation will be improved as the Project brings additional workers to the area. The Project serves as a vital physical and economic link between the Downtown, Chinatown, and South End neighborhoods.”

While the proposal contemplates a new courtyard area outside facing the Whole Foods, as well as a community space facing the store, it does require the elimination of 60 parking spaces, taking the 300-car garage down to a 260-car garage.

“As part of the proposed office expansion, several other refinements will occur: the existing garage will be reduced by 60 spaces, the current loading dock area at 1000 Washington will be pulled back from the Harrison Avenue street edge and that area reconstructed as public open space, and significant additional pedestrian realm improvements will be constructed,” read the filing. “The Project will include the development of a small cultural/gallery space on the corner of Herald Street and Harrison Avenue. This space will help ‘anchor’ the building to the street life and will allow for an active presence facing the Whole Foods Market and the residential entry across Harrison Avenue.”

The project is proposed to be introduced as a Planned Development Area (PDA) and will contribute to the Neighborhood Housing Trust and the Neighborhood Jobs Trust. It is expected to generate $2.6 million in property taxes, with the property now generating $1.1 million in property taxes.

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