Bulfinch Triangle revitalization begins!

Posted by Michael DiMella on Tue, Jan 06, 2009

Bulfinch Triangle, the small triangle shaped sliver of Boston roughly located between Merrimac Street, Canal Street, and Causeway Street across from the TD BankNorth Garden (map), is finally about to start its new life as a "real" neighborhood.  Although more recently known only as "where the Garden is" and for its, shall I say, robust bar scene (not that I'm complaining!), the expected completion in July 2009 of Archstone Avenir, a mixed use development on Canal Street with 241 luxury apartments for rent and 27,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space, should help enhance the neighborhood image.  Bulfinch Triangle is an historic part of Boston, being one of the first landfill areas in the City, but it had languished for years in the shadow of the elevated Expressway.   After the Expressway was torn down as part of the Big Dig highway project, progress in revitalizing the neighborhood has been slow...until recently.

Banker and Tradesman is reporting that the Avenir project (pictured above) is on schedule to open next summer as construction is nearly 70% complete now.  This project is the first to come online since the completion of the Big Dig and is a good first step to revitalizing the Bulfinch Triangle neighborhood.  While originally slated to be a condo project, the original developers (Trinity) sensed weakness in the condo market and subsequently sold the project to Archstone, an apartment developer.  Presumably to maintain a condo sell off exit strategy down the road plus save development costs, Archstone kept most of the plans the same as what Trinity was planning originally, in terms of design, floorplans, and finishes:

Szary [Damien Szary, assistant vice president development for Archstone] describes the units as larger than typical size for Boston apartments, averaging more than 1,000 square feet. Rents will range from $2,000-$6,000 per month, depending on size and location of the unit within the building. Rents will fluctuate depending on the market, he added.

“We maintained the original plans from when we bought the building from Trinity,” Szary said. “We kept the exterior look and interior finishes, which are going to be a huge selling point … The brick and metal-panel building was designed to work contextually with the neighborhood.”

I'm glad the project found a suitable developer willing to take on the project and kick the area revitalization into gear.  Any time you can replace an eyesore of an elevated highway and replace it with new residential and retail space is a good day in my book.  Especially in a neighborhood like Bulfinch Triangle, where there is prime opportunity to create a great live/work neighborhood, given its location between The North End, Beacon Hill, and Government Center and proximity to North Station and Rt. 93.  Bring a few residential units in, bring in a grocery store, bring in a few new restaurants (not that there's anything wrong with Half-Time Pizza or The Fours, of course, but some new blood will help!), and next thing you know you have a thriving place to live.

Hopefully the other approved projects for the neighborhood stay on track as well:

And Avenir is just the beginning for this new, old neighborhood.  A 360,000-square-foot, mixed-use development by Simpson Housing has been approved for 283 apartment units and 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Raymond Properties Co. has been approved for Greenway Center, a 488,000-square-foot development featuring 295,000 square feet of commercial office, a Stop & Shop supermarket and other first-floor retail.

“I think all these projects will be a big part of the revitalization efforts of the Bulfinch Triangle,” O’Brian [Bob O’Brian, executive director of community group Downtown North Association] said. “We want this neighborhood to be somewhere you can live, work and stay.”

I agree.

On a side note, we have a great condo unit for sale at the Strada Building (234 Causeway Street) if you are interested in investing in the Bulfinch Triangle area now for only $460 per square foot including garage parking!  Details can be found here.


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Tags: apartments, development