By Seth Daniel
A major retail tenant has signed on to the UDR project at 345 Harrison Ave., but the remaining retail space in the 585-unit building, which occupies and entire city block in the New York Streets area, is still up for grabs.
Alexandra Ong of UDR briefed the Old Dover Neighborhood Association on the project Tuesday night, the first update in a number of months and since the project started last April.
The big news from the update came in the announcement that CVS has signed on to take about 10,000 sq. ft. of the 25,000 square feet of retail space available on the ground floor.
“We have signed CVS on as a tenant, which was a really big addition for us,” said Ong. “We have not signed any other retail yet. We are in discussions with a whole host of prospective tenants. We’re close on a bar and a restaurant concept, but nothing else is signed yet.”
The retail component has long been a concern in the UDR project as many in the burgeoning neighborhood, as well as the project’s neighbors at Ink Block, have worried that the retail program wouldn’t support what is already there.
For example, in the early stages, a coffee shop was suggested, even though there are already numerous, new coffee shops within a three-block area.
No coffee shop was discussed Tuesday night, but Ong did say they are pretty serious about adding a dog day-care due to the growing dog population. Urban Hound, which is located in Ink Block, is reportedly oversubscribed and there is a need for more dog services in the neighborhood.
To get that done, Ong said they would have to go for an amendment to their zoning, and would be looking for neighborhood support if possible.
“It’s still in the early stages and I don’t have an operator in mind, but we are talking to many operators right now,” Ong said.
Ong said they are preparing to have the first units in the building ready for occupancy by the spring of next year.
She also said the closed sidewalk on Harrison Avenue would like be opened by January or February.
- Another development update came from 321 Harrison Ave., which is the addition to the 1000 Washington St. office building.
Todd Fremont Smith of Nordblom said they have sought their building permit and could start working on the foundation of the new building by March. Already, an office building stands at 1000 Washington St. with a two-story parking garage next to it. The idea of the project is to build an eight-story glass building on top of the existing garage to offer more Class A office space.
A second piece would be to build a new foyer in the middle of both buildings that would serve as a grand entrance to the new campus.
“If we start the foundation by March, we could have this done by the summer of 2019, and the building would be up,” he said. “One good thing is it’s not a very complicated building.”
He said they have signed no tenants yet, but would try to go after big, interesting tenants first. He equated it with the Bose company relocating to Allston and the Reebok company relocating to Fort Point. He said some tenant like that would be an ideal fit for the new building.
The current large tenant in the existing building is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Fremont Smith said they are up for a renewal, and Nordblom has offered them a renewal, but there is no news on it yet.
As an aside, the new building will not be built with piles that need to be pounded into the foundation – a problem at some of the other new buildings whereby the pounding noise disrupted quality of life for neighbors. Instead, they will use a pile system that screws into the foundation and is much less noisy.
- Old Dover continues to evaluate whether they wish to change their name or not.
At Tuesday’s meeting the ongoing discussion continued, with the idea that something likely has to change in order to incorporate the New York Streets and Ink Block area into the association. It is now assumed that the New York Street Neighborhood Association is not functioning, and many residents from that area are now attending Old Dover.
A major sentiment still exists for keeping ‘Dover’ in the name somehow, but there is also sentiment for adding something new.
Founders of the association, including Duggan Hill, wish that there would be no change at all to the name so as to preserve the history of the community’s activism.