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Business Manager’s Blog

Michael Monahan

Michael P. Monahan, the Business Manager of Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, represents more than 7,000 electrical and telecommunication members in the Greater Boston area.

In addition to the strong and steady leadership he provides to his Local Union on a daily basis, he exudes the same qualities when providing services for the community, whether it is coordinating volunteer efforts for electricians who are donating their skills at various places, such as schools and private homes for disabled individuals, or the installation of wireless capabilities for the City. From his days as a rank-and-file member through his current position as Business Manager, Mike has met every challenge and serves his membership with pride and distinction.

Wynn Agrees to Terms with Unions: Everett Project to Be Built with Union Trades

Everett Independent
July 21, 2014

Wynn MA, LLC has announced that it has reached a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with all major local trade unions, ensuring that the $1.6 billion proposed Wynn Resort in Everett will be built with union contractors. The comprehensive agreement covers all aspects of construction, work rules and hours and was unanimously endorsed by the Massachusetts Building Trades Council—which represents the IBEW, Teamsters, iron workers, brick layers, sheet metal workers, and other trades—and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

Construction of the proposed 5-star Wynn Resort in Everett will require more than 10 million man hours of labor and generate 14,300 construction jobs, 4,000 permanent jobs and drive more than $4 billion in revenue to other local businesses over five years—numbers that are significantly higher than any other proposed gaming resort in the state. This agreement is another major step forward for the Wynn project which recently filed its Final Environmental Impact Report and is months ahead of Mohegan Sun in this important requirement that precedes construction.

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Transmission projects aim to tap Canadian hydroelectricity

The Boston Globe | Erin Ailworth
July 20, 2014

Canada SubstationAcross the Canadian border, massive dams generate a seemingly endless supply of hydroelectricity — a source of power that could help New England replace its closing coal and nuclear plants while cutting greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. But there’s a big problem: getting it here.

At least five major transmission projects — some estimated to cost more than $1 billion to build — have been proposed to connect New England to this plentiful power source to the north. The projects, however, are not only spurring opposition in the communities where the lines would cross but also a broader debate about the region’s energy policy and the role hydroelectricity should play.

That debate flared again last week as New England governors met with the leaders of eastern Canadian provinces in New Hampshire to discuss energy and economic issues. Opponents of a hydro transmission project that would cross wilderness areas in New Hampshire, the so-called Northern Pass, staged protests; so did opponents of a proposed pipeline to transport natural gas from shale fields in Pennsylvania and other nearby states across Massachusetts.

These protests underscored the challenges policy makers face as they try to balance growing demand for energy against increased urgency to slow the pace of climate change, which scientists attribute to the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. While solar, wind, and other renewables are certain to play larger roles in the region’s energy mix, they remain intermittent power sources without the scale to easily replace the more than 4,000 megawatts of generating capacity, or enough to power 4 million homes, that will be lost over the next few years with the shutdown or planned shutdown of three coal-fired plants in Massachusetts, a nuclear plant in Vermont, and other facilities in New England.

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Next Stop, Alewife? Cambridge Office And Lab Market Sizzles Investors Bet On Alewife Biotech

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
July 20, 2014

Kendall Square StopDowntown Office Market Feels Like It’s 2005 To read the sidebar accompanying this article, click here. Strong demand for office and lab space in Cambridge has pushed double-digit rent increases in the last year. With vacancies dwindling in East Cambridge, investors are betting on the Alewife neighborhood absorbing future spillover demand.

Waltham-based King Street Properties acquired two vacant former Pfizer lab buildings near the Alewife MBTA station for $54.5 million last week, and plans to spend $57.5 million repositioning them to attract the next wave of biotech companies.

Thomas Ragno, founder and principal of King Street Properties, hopes to attract suburban tech companies looking for transit-friendly sites and those squeezed out of Kendall Square.

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Solar energy technology for those with no access to electricity

With 1.7 billion people living without access to mains electricity, we look at five solar-powered products that could ease the problems of those ‘off the grid’

The Guardian | John Still
July 21, 2014

solar-devices-africaAround the world approximately 1.7 billion people still live off the grid, with no access to mains electricity. This comes with numerous problems, with lighting and access to income among the most pressing.

Once the sun goes does down those off the grid are reliant on kerosene, which is not only hazardous but expensive.
While mobile phone use is widespread off the grid, recharging can be a difficult process requiring a long journey, and the lack of charge can mean restricted access to business opportunities or basic services.

Solar power could have a major role in solving these problems and others, with a number of new products aimed at improving conditions and opportunities for those in off the grid, base of the pyramid markets. Some are being directly marketed to developing nations, while some have applications with the potential to make a difference worldwide.

A number of these companies owe their success to crowdfunding campaigns, highlighting the role that the general public have to play in ensuring that such projects, with sustainability applications for both developing and developed nations, get further than the planning stages.
Here are five examples of solar power innovations aiming to make a difference to those living off the grid.

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Workshop on home solar energy

Newburyport News
July 21, 2014

NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport Office of Recycling and Energy has announced that their program, Newburyport No Wasted Energy, is making great strides toward the first tier goal of home energy assessments for residents.

With that momentum, the office announces a new workshop on home solar energy Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Plum Island Coffee Roasters.

As an added incentive for resident participation in the No Wasted Energy program, partner Next Step Living will make contributions to the Newburyport High School library as part of the Sustainable Energy Education Drive (SEED) by donating $10 per home energy assessment, $50 per solar assessment and $250 for any solar installation on Newburyport residents’ homes.

Molly Ettenborough, who heads up Newburyport’s recycling and energy office, was pleased by the full house she greeted at the first workshop on energy efficiency.

“We were delighted with the level of interest we received from residents. Our goal is to sustain that interest throughout the year to benefit to residential energy expenses,” she said in a press release.

An interim goal is to complete a total of 104 energy assessments by mid-August to reach the first tier goal in the No Wasted Energy program.

“We are making good progress toward our first tier goal,” said Ettenborough. As a matter of record, all Newburyport municipal buildings have undergone energy assessments.

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UMass to open new facility in downtown Boston

The Boston Herald 
July 21, 2014

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts says it plans to boost its presence in downtown Boston by opening an academic and administrative building in 2016.

All five of the UMass campuses will be given the chance to offer classes at the Beacon Street facility near the Statehouse. University officials say those classes will serve people who work in the city and want to continue their education.

UMass president Robert Caret said the new facility, to be known as the UMass Center on Beacon Hill, represents a major step forward for the school.

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Health center teams with Winn to develop veterans housing in Brighton

Boston Business Journal | By Thomas Grillo
July 18, 2014

Brighton Marine Health CenterThe Brighton Marine Health Center and WinnCompanies have submitted plans to build a 101-unit apartment building in Brighton.

Under the proposal that was filed this week with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the developers plan to demolish four vacant single-family homes on an 8.3-acre campus at 77 Warren St. and replace them with a 111,650-square-foot building. The six-story residence will contain 7,500 square feet of amenity space and a below-grade parking garage that will include 49 spaces.

All the units will be leased with a preference to veterans, in keeping with the Brighton Marine Health Center’s mission.

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Fenway condo prices spike on neighborhood’s resurgence, Symphony Court sales

Boston Business Journal | By Thomas Grillo
July 18, 2014

Fenway CondosThe Fenway, historically among the most affordable neighborhoods in Boston, saw year-over-year condo prices jump by nearly 43 percent in the second quarter due to strong demand and a flurry of activity at a new development near Symphony Hall, according to a new report and interviews with brokers.

Median prices in the Fenway increased to $531,500 in the quarter that ended June 30, up from about $374,000 a year earlier. The pricing data was based on 104 sales in the most-recent quarter, according to the Listing Information Network, or LINK, a Boston-based company that tracks real estate sales.

Colin Bray, a broker at Century 21 Cityside who is listing a 1,084-square-foot, two-bedroom unit on Miner Street for $774,900, said he’s not surprised that prices are rising in the Fenway. In fact, he contends the area near Kenmore Square and Fenway Park is still undervalued.

“Fenway is the hottest neighborhood in Boston outside of the Seaport District and South Boston,” said Bray. “If you walk down Boylston Street, there are three major luxury apartment projects with commercial space on the ground level under construction. The buyers see the Fenway as the next ‘it’ neighborhood and it’s booming.”

The neighborhood’s new buyers, Bray said, are a mix of people who are priced out of Back Bay and the South End as well as investors seeking to rent to the area’s abundance of college students. Among the buyers in Q2 was Gloria Estefan, the Latin-music icon who paid $1.1 million for a new two-bedroom, two-bath condominium near the Fenway’s border with the South End. The condo is a stone’s throw from Symphony Hall is reportedly for Estefan’s daughter, Emily, a freshman at the Berklee College of Music.

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Koch appoints new Quincy Planning Board member

The Patriot Ledger | By Patrick Ronan
July 18, 2014

QUINCY – Mayor Thomas Koch has appointed a new member to the city’s planning board.

On Wednesday, Koch appointed Sean Callaghan, a business agent for electrical workers union IBEW Local 103, to the five-member board, which is responsible for reviewing subdivision plans and special-permit applications for city construction projects.

“It’s typical to have labor representation on regulatory boards,” Christopher Walker, a spokesman for Koch, said.

Callaghan replaces former board member James Fay, who had to resign because his work schedule kept him from attending meetings, city Planning Director Dennis Harrington said.

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Southie Residents Have Beef with a New Condo Development

A new condo project means the end for a long-time neighborhood restaurant.

Boston Magazine | By John A. Keith
July 15, 2014

Liberty Bell Roast BeefThe Liberty Bell Roast Beef restaurant has been open at 170 West Broadway in South Boston since 1979, meaning the family-owned business has been feeding generations of Southie families. But now, perhaps sensing the tides of change are strong, its owners have decided what their neighborhood needs is less food and more housing, and the restaurant will be torn down to be replaced with condos, parking, and a new and different street-level restaurant.

The headline writes itself (“Give Me Liberty Beef or Give Me Death!”), but the story is anything but humorous for some South Boston residents who are opposed to the 33-unit condominium project, which was approved last week by the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Board of Directors.

Few Southie residents were unhappy with the loss of the existing building—although many will miss the Bell’s King Beef sandwiches—but were concerned about what would take its place. City zoning regulations for the area limit buildings to a 35-foot height, but the approved project will rise to 59 feet, or 68 percent, higher. The floor area ratio is more than two-and-a-half times what zoning allows. And, the building will be closer by half the acceptable distance to the homes behind it on Athens Street. This was a lot to accept by neighbors who have had to deal with the negative effects of constant construction of condos and apartments during the past decade.

In the beginning, South Boston residents were presented with plans for a much larger project. Some of the neighbors’ wariness is a result of this. When first unveiled last summer, the proposal was for a larger building-14,000-square feet larger, or 30 percent, with 47 condos proposed, and 11-feet taller. Facing strong resistance from the neighborhood, the developer sent his architect back to the drawing board, and ended up reducing the number of units, increasing the number of parking spaces, and moving resident parking access from Athens Street behind the lot to West Broadway in front.

After eight months of meetings with abutters and members of the St. Vincent Neighborhood Association, the developer had enough public support to submit the proposal to the BRA on April 30.

South Boston residents have had their opportunity to talk with the developer and the BRA about the proposal, but it seems not everyone is satisfied with the final result. Comments on the Caught in Southie blog have been pretty furious. A sample:

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Nahant official resigns amid probe into spending

The Boston Globe | By Andrea Estes and Sean P. Murphy
June 17, 2014

Nahant Town HallNAHANT — Essex County prosecutors are investigating whether town administrator Andrew Bisignani improperly funneled public contracts to favored contractors, prompting him to resign abruptly and roiling this normally tranquil island community.

State Police raided Town Hall Friday, seizing computers, paperwork, and lists of the town’s vendors, Selectman Michael Manning confirmed, part of what he called a “very broad investigation” into spending by Bisignani. Manning said he learned of the investigation two weeks ago when prosecutors subpoenaed records from the town clerk.

Officials in nearby Saugus, where Bisignani served as town administrator until 2011, said that Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett’s investigators are looking at Bisignani’s conduct there, too. Audits conducted by accountants identified more than $2 million in questionable spending during the last two years of Bisignani’s tenure, including what they called “intentional violation” of state laws and rules.

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Officials break ground on $50 million South End development (slide show)

Boston Business Journal | By Thomas Grillo
July 16, 2014

SepiaMayor Martin J. Walsh joined National Development on Wednesday to break ground on Sepia, the $50 million condominium project at the edge of Boston’s South End neighborhood.

The 112,000-square-foot development is the latest phase of Ink Block, the Newton developer’s $200 million redevelopment of the former Boston Herald site at Harrison Avenue and Traveler Street.

“When the Herald was here, it didn’t look like there was this much area,” said Walsh. “It’s been incredible watching the project grow from the ground up. It’s really exciting to see Boston expand in the South End.”

The 83 condos will be priced starting at $500,000 for a 512-square-foot studio to $2 million for the three-bedroom dwellings. Amenities include underground
parking, a rooftop sundeck, private balconies, a rooftop pool, fitness center and a clubroom.

Ted Tye, National Development’s managing partner, said 60 percent of the units have been presold.

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Is the Entire City of Boston ‘Gentrifying’?

America’s cities are sorting themselves by education level.

Boston Magazine | By Eric Randall
July 15, 2014

Boston SkylineForget Southie: Is the entire city of Boston gentrifying?

An interesting piece in the Washington Post this week argues that America is seeing its highly educated population and its less educated populations segregate themselves not just by neighborhood but by entire city:

“It’s easy to recognize this phenomenon in San Francisco, or even Washington. College graduates have flooded in, drawn by both jobs and amenities,” the Post’s Emily Badger writes. “Yet more amenities have followed to cater to them (luring yet more college graduates). Housing costs have increased as a result, pushing low-wage and low-skilled workers out.”

As the wage gap between college grads and non-educated workers has widened, those that could afford a more expensive standard of living actually sought it out in expensive cities, making those places even more expensive and pushing out those with less income. On the macro-scale that’s an unsettling trend. But on the micro scale, individual cities probably want to ask themselves, “Who wins this game, and why?” The Post has some answers:

Between 1980 and 2000, cities that already had a lot of college graduates increasingly became magnets for more of them … A city like Boston historically had an advantage on this front, but its advantage has only grown stronger with time

Managing the shift away from well-paid manufacturing jobs to high-skilled industries is also important. And there, Boston also seems to be doing well:

Good-paying jobs that didn’t require a college degree have been vanishing. Cities like Boston, meanwhile, have shifted their labor demand away from such jobs and toward college grads who now work in industries like biotechnology or medicine. Detroit, once a mecca of a good manufacturing jobs, has had a harder time with that same transition.

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Southie Real Estate Scoop: 190- 206 West 2nd Street Development

Caught in Southie | By Betsy Walsh Frissora
July 16, 2014

190- 206 West 2nd StreetThe massive residential project proposed for 190-206 West 2nd Street (also known as 181-185 West 1st Street) has been approved, and the developers of Triad Alpha Partners LLC and R&B Design are moving forward with their 30 million dollar plan. The location of the project site is bordered by West 1st Street (North), and C Street (East), and West 2nd Street (South). It will replace an old warehouse and parking lot with a 90,000 sq.ft. three-story residential building sitting only a block away from the new West Square development.

The three-story structure will contain 97 rental apartment units, 115 garage parking spots, and 4000 sq.ft. of ground floor retail space. The housing units will be built on top of the garage, and have entrances on West 1st Street and West 2nd Street. The U-shaped building will be equipped with 2 elevators, one at each lobby entrance on West 2nd Street and West 1st Street. It will follow the setbacks of the property on the north, east and west streets, and create a courtyard/open air atrium in the middle of the building.

The residential units are a mix of one and two bedroom units, relatively small in size, ranging from 625 sq.ft. to 1,278 sq.ft. All of the units will be flats, except for two townhouses, and all of the units will be sold at market value, which (based on current market price) will most likely range from 500k- 999k.

According to the plan, the development will bring many public benefits to the area such as:
• Creation of approximately 97 housing units for young professionals in close proximity to the Innovation District.
• Replacing an unattractive industrial site with a new, appealing residential building and parking facility, providing functional and aesthetic improvements to the neighborhood.
• Creating an improved streetscape along West 1st and West 2nd Streets with new sidewalks that will be more inviting to pedestrians.

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Cambridge Audio Company Eyes Move To Lafayette City Center

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
July 11, 2013

Audie CompanyWireless speaker manufacturer Sonos is in discussions about a move from East Cambridge to Lafayette City Center in downtown Boston.

The audio company is negotiating for 110,000 to 130,000 square feet at the mixed-use complex near Downtown Crossing, according to real estate sources. State Street Corp., the previous office tenant, vacated the building in favor of its new 500,000-square-foot One Channel Center complex that opened last month in the Seaport District.

The Abbey Group of Boston is repositioning the 610,000-square-foot complex to attract new tenants and add ground-floor retail and entertainment venues. Florida nightclub group Latitude 360 has signed a letter of intent to open a 63,000-square-foot dance club at Lafayette City Center, the Boston Business Journal reported last month.

The complex’s makeover includes a modern lobby with a glass staircase, marble walls and an “edgy” 360-degree security desk, according to marketing materials. Office spaces will offer flexible layouts, open floor plans and high ceilings.

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