Representatives from Boston Properties provided a status update on the mixed-use development it has proposed for the site of the existing MBTA Back Bay station during a meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the project Tuesday at the State Transportation Building.
Now rechristened 171 Dartmouth St., the Back Bay/South End Gateway project, as it was formerly known, “is comprised of up to approximately 1.26 million square feet of mixed-use redevelopment, consisting of a new office building with ground floor retail, two new residential buildings, a one- to two-story vertical retail expansion of the existing Back Bay Station building, and the partial redevelopment of the existing 165 Dartmouth St. Garage,” according to the Boston Planning and Development Agency website.
Keir Evans, project manager for Boston Properties, said site preparation and utility work is slated begin in the second quarter of 2020 while the west portion of the garage would be demolished and “vertical” construction would commence in the second quarter on 2021.
But Evans said this timeframe hinges entirely on securing retail tenants for the development.
“We’re not building this on spec,” Evans said. “We hope to sign a tenant…and have at least 50-percent pre-lease.”
Meanwhile, the two current retail tenants – Eastern Bank and Atrius Health – have expressed interest in staying on as tenants within a quarter-mile radius of the of their present locations.
‘The tenants involved want to stay, and we want them to stay,” Evans said. “On a crucial path, we can’t bring down the garage without [their agreement].”
As part of the project, Boston Properties will also undertake a major renovation of the station’s concourse level, which is expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2021 and wrap up in the fourth quarter of that year, Evans said.
Also, Evans said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s decision to close the on-ramp from Clarendon Street to I-90 westbound will allow for the “preservation of the pedestrian experience along Dartmouth Street.”
In response to concerns about the potential impact of the project on parking in the area, Evans said that 1,100 spaces of the garage’s 2’013-space existing capacity would be preserved, which could accomodate parking demands during peak hours.