Exchange South End: Home to the New Amazon HQ?

By Seth Daniel

One week after filing their long-awaited Project Notification Form (PNF) with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), developers of the transformative Exchange South End project are already talking about what a great option their development would be for the coveted Amazon headquarters.

Principles from the Abbey Group told the Sun this week that they would like to be considered as one of the sites in the city’s competitive bid to Amazon to host the internet company’s new world headquarters.

“We recently filed our PNF for Exchange South End, a 5.6-acre build-to-suit site in the heart of the South End,” read the statement from the Abbey Group. “We worked closely with the surrounding community to develop a campus that, in conjunction with additional proximate parcels, could be considered for a proposal that the city is pulling together and would be a great option for Amazon.”

On Sept. 7, Amazon announced a deadline of Oct. 19 for interested parties to submit bids to the company. Amazon’s HQ2 development could bring as many as 50,000 full-time jobs to the area. Amazon is planning roughly an eight million square-foot campus possibly spread over several areas with a main campus.

Other areas of Boston also being considered for the proposal include the old Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston and Revere – which is only a short drive through the Ted Williams Tunnel from the Exchange site.

The developer of Suffolk Downs, former BPDA staffer Tom O’Brien of HYM Group, has said he plans to “fight” for Amazon at his site.

Exchange South End filed its PNF last Tuesday, Sept. 19, and held it’s first public meeting last night in the South End to get the official review underway. Already, the Abbey Group has conducted 30 community meetings in the neighborhood to familiarize residents with the 5.6-acre site on Albany Street abutting the Expressway.

The project would contain no residential development, but as many as 4,000 to 7,000 jobs in office and laboratory space on the site. The total development would include 42,500 square feet of ground floor retail space, a 30,000 sqaure foot civic space, a new central Albany Green public park, 1.481 million square feet of office and life-science research space, and 1,145 parking spaces in a below-grade garage.

There would be four buildings on the site surrounding the Albany Green. The first building closest to Albany Street would be six floors and 92-feet high. The second building on the north side of the side closest to Albany Street would be 14 stories tall and 200 feet. The buildings on the back of the site include a 20-story tower of 282 feet, and a 15-story tower of 215 feet.

The construction schedule would be phased based on demand in the market, meaning some of the larger building might not materialize until much later. Phase 1 is estimated to take 20 months starting in fall 2018. The first two buildings would be completed by early 2020 – and that phase would include the Albany Green and the roadwork. There was no timetable for the towers on the back of the site.

More public meetings and meetings of the Impact Advisory Group (IAG) are expected in the coming weeks, as well.

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