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Business Manager’s Blog

John P. Dumas

John P. Dumas, 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.

A 37 year member of Local 103, Dumas is a seasoned and experienced leader. Along with serving as 103’s president for the past 18 years, Dumas served the union in a number of leadership roles, including business agent, member of the union’s executive board and trustee of the health, ANNUITY, pension, LMCT and JATC funds. He also has served as a member of numerous contract negotiation teams, playing a pivotal role in several major contracts governing members’ benefits.

Throughout his career he has shown a keen interest in nurturing younger union officers in preparation for leadership roles in the future, and his leadership style has always been one of inclusion and accessibility to all members.


One Seaport Square signs up 2 nightclubs

Boston Herald | By Donna Goodison
September 4, 2015

Boston’s Big Night Entertainment is poised to expand in the Seaport District with two new nightlife venues on the South Boston waterfront.

The company has signed a lease for 21,930 square feet on three floors in One Seaport Square, a $600 million, 3-acre project with two apartment towers and retail space on Northern Avenue that’s under development by Berkshire Group, Boston Global Investors and WS Development.

Big Night confirmed its One Seaport Square commitment, but did not identify the venues, but a lease obtained by the Herald indicates it will open a second outpost of the Scorpion Bar, a “traditional Mexican tequila cantina with the attitude of a rock bar.” Its first Scorpion Bar opened at Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort & Casino in 2009. The lease also points to a second venue, a new concept called The Grande.

Big Night founder Ed Kane said in a statement the company is excited about the expansion.

“There are still many details to be worked out,” Kane said. “BNEG was an early pioneer in the Seaport, and we are working with WS Development to continue our commitment of offering first-class hospitality, award-winning food and spectacular design. We have a lot of work to do before we can share additional details.”

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U.S. Adds 173,000 Jobs in August

Unemployment rate falls to 5.1%, and wages climb at 2.2% pace

The Wall Street Journal | By David Harrison and Eric Morath
September 4, 2015


WASHINGTON—U.S. employment growth slowed in August, but the unemployment rate fell more than expected due to a smaller labor force.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 173,000 in August, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions showed employers added 14,000 more jobs in June and 30,000 more jobs in July than previously estimated.

The unemployment rate, which comes from a separate survey of U.S. households fell to 5.1% in August, from 5.3% the previous month.

Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had projected a 220,000 increase in payrolls and a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.2%.

Average hourly earnings of private-sector workers rose 8 cents last month to $25.09. From a year earlier, wages were up 2.2%, roughly in line with the wage gains seen for much of the expansion.

Meanwhile, the share of Americans either working or looking for work stayed steady at 62.6% in August. The participation rate hasn’t changed for the past three months and is now roughly where it was 1977.

Friday’s report presents a mixed picture for Federal Reserve officials, who have said they will take Friday’s employment report into account as they weigh whether to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006 during their Sept. 16-17 meeting.

The August report is the last major indication they will get about the health of the labor market before the meeting.

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BRA Seeks Comments on Bennington St. project

East Boston Times-Free Press | By John Lynds
September 2, 2015

As part of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) Article 80 review process the BRA hosted a community meeting last Thursday evening regarding the proposal to build a large housing project at 1181-1183 Bennington St.

At the meeting the BRA said the comment period will last until September 7 with public comment periods on the project due by that date.

The Orient Heights Neighborhood Council recently voted 18-0 in favor of the scaled down version of the project being pitched for a contaminated auto-body at 1181-1183 Bennington St.

In their fourth meeting with the community the developers have been working to find a happy medium that addresses concerns of density, height and parking.

The updated plan calls for 44 units of housing-down from 55 units. The building has been lowered from five stories to four and the developable land has been reduced from 54,000 sq. ft. to 48,000 sq. ft.

At last weeks meeting there was still some concerns over parking and additional traffic that the project may bring to the area. However, attorney for the project, Richard Lynds, said the projects close proximity to public transportation would make it ideal for those without cars seeking residence in Eastie. There will also be one parking space per unit and Lynds argued that those would two or more cars may not want to live at the development based on the parking situation.

“If you are someone that has two or more cars and are concerned about parking this may not be the right fit for you,” he said. “However, if you have one car or no car this would be a perfect fir because the building would be within walking distance to two MBTA train stations.”

The site has caused much anxiety among East Boston’s environmental activists and the project presents perhaps the best chance to get it cleaned up.

The site on Bennington Street houses the Auto Doctor, whose owner was fined $180,000 by Attorney General Martha Coakley for illegal dumping into the Belle Isle Marsh in 2012.

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Three more Seaport towers move ahead

The Boston Globe | By Tim Logan
September 2, 2015


The next phase of the massive Seaport Square development in Boston’s waterfront district cleared a key city hurdle Tuesday night.

The Boston Civic Design Commission gave its approval to the plans for three 22-story condo and apartment towers and retail along Seaport Boulevard. It’s the final city approval needed for the $700 million project, said Nick Martin, a spokesman for the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Unlike many developments in the Seaport, which have been criticized for being overly boxy, these buildings are designed with staggered heights and different shapes arrayed around an elevated podium with retail on the 3.5 acre site. It would include about 1,100 condos and apartments,- with the exact mix to be determined by market conditions – and 125,000 square feet of retail space. The buildings will be built on two blocks between Seaport Boulevard and Congress Street, between B Street and East Service Road.

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Developers Collect $10M For Construction Of Kendall Square Affordable Housing Project

Banker & Tradesman
September 2, 2015

capstonePort Landing Tenant LLC, an affiliate of Cambridge-based developer Capstone Communities LLC, has received over $10 million in financing to build an affordable housing development in Cambridge.

Major financing sources include a $4.9 million tax-exempt bond from MassDevelopment purchased by Cambridge Trust Co., a $3.6 million low-income housing tax credit from The Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) and $2 million from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. Additional funds have been provided by the city of Cambridge and its associated affordable housing trust funds.

The funds will be used by co-developers Capstone Communities and Hope Real Estate Enterprises to build, furnish and equip a 31,100-square-foot, 20-unit affordable housing development on a 10,000 square-foot vacant parcel near Kendall Square at 131 Harvard Street. The development, to be called Port Landing, will contain four one-bedroom units, 13 two-bedroom units and three three-bedroom units.

In 1998, the Bulfinch Cos., a Needham real estate firm, deeded the property to a local neighborhood group. The deed required that it could only be used for specific community-serving uses, but the land remained undeveloped and vacant for nearly 17 years.

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$10M Apartment Complex Planned for West Roxbury’s Lagrange Street

48 apartments and 81 parking spaces would be built in the spot of an abandoned factory if plans are approved

West Roxbury Patch | By Frank O’Laughlin
September 1, 2015

west roxbury

A local realtor filed official plans with the Boston Redevelopment Authority on Monday to transform the site of a former inhaler factory on Lagrange Street into a $10-millon apartment complex.

Michael Argiros, of Charles River Realty, purchased the closed West Roxbury factory. He has proposed plans to turn the unsightly building into a 48-unit apartment complex with 81 parking spaces.

According to Argiros, six apartments will be classified as affordable.

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Volpe center project draws big-name developers

The Boston Globe | By Tim Logan
September 1, 2015

A who’s who of major real estate developers are lining up for one of the biggest development opportunities in Greater Boston.

At least eight companies responded by Monday’s deadline to the federal government’s initial request to redevelop the Volpe transportation center in Kendall Square. Bidders range from biotech real estate giants to well-connected Boston developers to national players with deep pockets.

The heavy interest highlights the potential of the Volpe site, 14 acres in the heart of red-hot Kendall Square, where housing is in short supply and office rents are among the highest on the East Coast.

The General Services Administration is seeking a developer to build a new transportation research facility, in exchange for the right to build on the rest of the property. The agency expects to pick a developer by January 2017.

Citing the competitive nature of its bidding process, the GSA refused to release a list of companies that responded to its request for qualifications — a first step in the bidding process. But Cambridge officials said they had separately met with representatives of 13 real estate companies interested in redeveloping Volpe; eight of those confirmed they had responded to the GSA request, and the other companies did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

The confirmed bidders include construction heavyweights Lend-Lease and Skanska USA; a partnership between BioMed and Longfellow Real Estate Partners, both of which have developed many properties in Kendall; the development arm of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; HYM Investments, whose principal Tom O’Brien is a former head of the Boston Redevelopment Authority; Oxford Properties, which has made several major office-building purchases in Boston in recent years; the housing and office developer Related Beal; and Peebles Corp., a New York firm that has made big inroads in Boston recently.

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South Bay Town Center plan gets airing at BRA session; discussion is mixed, hearty

Dorchester Reporter | By Jennifer Smith
August 27, 2015

south bay tower

Response to the proposal for a South Bay Town Center was mixed and vigorous last Tuesday at a Boston Redevelopment Authority-sponsored forum where the project’s organizers laid down

Raul Duverge of the BRA guided the meeting as Keith Hague, the director of pre-construction for Edens, the company that owns the current South Bay Mall and adjacent parcels of land intended to make up the South Bay Town Center, discussed the project.

While many attendees expressed cautious support for the project, which would expand the Mall by almost 10 acres of land near Dorchester’s northern edge, some pushed against what they saw as a potentially inconvenient combination of roadways, parking structures, surrounding residences, and retail space.

“People didn’t raise anything that wasn’t expected,” Duverge told the Reporter on Friday. The public’s transportation concerns have been at the forefront throughout the process so far, he said.

Three brothers who are investors in the project, Pawel Wojcik, 37; Jan Wojcik, 31; and Peter Wojcik, 26, took stock of the presentation, which included a virtual walk through of the site. While in general “it’s good to see a project like this come to the area,” Peter said, his brother Jan suggested that the center “needed a lot more green space” and allotted areas where residents can hang out, rather than being limited to relaxing in the same places as consumers at the center.

During the forum, organizers emphasized that the project is in early stages yet and has already been modified to reflect some public concern. In March, they attended a number of community meetings to help them gauge public response. The public comment period on the current proposal ends on Sept. 8, but as further paperwork is filed and additional comment periods open, more meetings are anticipated, Duverge said.

The initial plan, officially proposed by Edens in February, has been downsized slightly over the following months. What began as 115,000 square feet of commercial and retail space is now 113,000 square feet; a proposed hotel will host about 130 rooms, not 200; and the plan for some 500 units of multi-family housing has been downsized to 475 units.

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Braintree council wants more info before deciding on generating plant

Town council members said they want more information before they can vote on allowing the Braintree Electric Light Department to borrow $95 million to build a new generating plant

Patriot Ledger | By Fred Hanson
September 2, 2015

BRAINTREE – Members of the town council want more information before deciding on a $95 million loan for the Braintree Electric Light Department to build a new generating station.

The council has scheduled a special meeting for Sept. 22 to act on the loan request. Light department officials said a decision needs to be made by the end of the month or the project would have to be postponed for at least a year. The light department is seeking to build Watson 3, a 64-megawatt generating station that would replace the Potter 2 station in 2019.

William Bottiggi, the light department’s general manager, said Potter 2 is becoming old and unreliable. The new facility, which would be built on the light department property off Quincy Avenue, would help curb future rate increases and cut pollution, light department officials said. “The best way to stabilize that cost is to own our own generation,” Bottiggi said.

Mayor Joseph Sullivan offered “qualified support” for the plan but said he has not reached an agreement for a payment in lieu of taxes on the new facility.

Sullivan said he believes after meeting with light department officials the proposal is in the town’s best long-term interests. District 6 Town Councilor Dan Clifford said he has “been troubled by this process for a while.”

Clifford said council members have only had a matter of weeks to review the proposal and faulted light department officials for lack of communication.

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US construction spending reaches highest level in 7 years

Boston Herald | By Associated Press
September 1, 2015

us construction

WASHINGTON — U.S. construction spending in July climbed to its highest level in more than seven years, boosted by an increase in the building of houses, factories and power plants.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that construction spending rose 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.08 trillion, the highest level since May 2008. The report also revised up the June increase in construction spending to 0.7 percent from 0.1 percent previously.

Ground breakings for houses, apartment complexes and commercial centers have helped to improve overall economic growth. The government said last week that the U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.7 percent in the April-June quarter, after having edged up just 0.6 percent in the first quarter.

“We expect housing activity will continue to strengthen, underpinning greater residential investment in the coming quarters,” said Gregory Daco, head of U.S. marcoeconomics at the forecasting firm Oxford Economics.

After Thursday’s construction spending report, analysts at the bank Barclays projected that the economy is on track to grow 2.6 percent during the third quarter and that the second quarter growth rate would be revised up to 3.8 percent.

Total construction spending has risen 13.7 percent over the past 12 months.

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Copley Place mall renovations to start this month as part of $500M project

Boston Business Journal | By Catherine Carlock
September 1, 2015

copley palceSimon Property Group this month will start its renovation of the retail portion of Copley Place, the high-end retail center in Boston’s Back Bay.

The renovations will include physical upgrades such as new flooring and ceiling treatments, upgraded escalators and glass handrails and an upscale food court component.

“Simon continues to reinvest in our properties, and the renovation of Copley Place is another strong example of that,” said David Contis, president of Simon Malls, in a prepared statement. “We are confident that this transformation will enhance the shopping experience for our guests and further strengthen our position as the high-end shopping destination in the heart of Boston.”

Simon (NYSE: SPG) will also add a number of high-end retailers to Copley Place, including CH Carolina Herrera, Moncler and Versace. Existing locations for Tory Burch and L.K. Bennet will be expanded, while the existing Banana Republic and Eileen Fisher stores will be relocated within the center.

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Wynn Resorts Gets Vital Environmental Permit for Everett Casino

The 33-acre Wynn Resort in Everett will be the largest private single-phase development in Massachusetts’ history

Charlestown Patch | By Frank O’Laughlin
August 31, 2015

wynn 8-24Wynn Resort’s plans for a casino in Everett received a needed environmental permit from state officials on Friday, according to statement.

Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton signed off on a 10,000-plus page report that details the environmental impact and planned remediation efforts associated with the five-star, 33-acre project.

In addition to fulfilling requirements established by the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, Wynn’s Environmental Impact Report culminates a 30-month process and is the most important and comprehensive environmental permit required before Wynn can start land remediation and construction.

The 33-acre Wynn Resort in Everett will be the largest private single-phase development in Massachusetts’ history. It is $1.7 billion project that will include a five-star resort with more than 600 hotel rooms, high-end spa, retail, dining, ballroom and meeting space.

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Residents appeal Gateway Center decision

The Salem News | By Dustin Luca
August 30, 2015

SALEM — Twenty-one neighbors are appealing a city commission’s approval of the proposed Gateway Center at the corner of Bridge and Boston streets, casting doubt on the future of the city’s planned new senior center.

The Gateway Center would have two buildings — a two-story, stand-alone Community Life Center and a five-story building with businesses on the first floor and 117 residential units above.

The initial plan for the site was to have only one, four-story building, with the community center on the first floor and professional offices above. The city already had the local and state permits necessary to build that. It was approved by the Conservation Commission in 2010.

The developer, High Rock Development, went before the Conservation Commission in July to change the plan from one building to two, an amendment the commission approved.

That decision has been appealed by 21 residents of Boston, Federal and River Streets, among others.

Joyce Wallace, a Federal Street resident who filed the appeal on behalf of the other residents, said there were several reasons for the appeal.

Killing the project wasn’t one of them, she said.

“We have a lot of concerns with the density, with the apartments and the height,” Wallace said. “We’re concerned for the folks that are going to be down there. We’re doing it as abutters, but we’re also doing it for Salem and the welfare and protection of our residents.”

Wallace’s said she is concerned about on-site contamination and whether it would be safe for apartment residents there.

In a letter accompanying the appeal, Wallace wrote that this is important, since “none of the members of the Salem Conservation Commission board who reviewed the initial Gateway Center project and granted the original order of conditions were serving on the conservation board that met on July 9.”

She also cites potential flooding problems, since some of the property — namely, the parking lot— won’t be at the same elevation as the rest.

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Westford to merge police, fire dispatch

Lowell Sun | By Melissa Hanson
August 31, 2015

WESTFORD — Safety is on the minds of officials and residents, with a new combined dispatch center in the works and mixed feelings about proposed sidewalks in parts of town.

Combining police and fire dispatch has been in the talks for years, said Town Manager Jodi Ross and Tim Whitcomb, the operations manager at the Police Department.

The decision to finally combine them, which was approved at Town Meeting, will streamline operations, making the response to emergencies more effective.

“On most emergencies, we’re working together out on the street,” Whitcomb said. “We just never have worked together as intimately on the front end of the call.

The police station plans to transform its current emergency operation center, or EOC, and training room into the new dispatch center. The current center will then become the EOC and training room, Whitcomb said.

Because dispatchers spend nearly all hours of their shift at their post, the center will need to be equipped with a break room and a small office. Police are also trying to decide if bathrooms will be built into the space. Two bathrooms are located just outside the doors of the room.

Currently, the Police Department has seven dispatchers and a few part-time employees, who fill two shifts at a time. At the Fire Department, a total of four dispatchers work one shift at time, with firefighters filling in as needed.

The move to combine dispatch comes with the plan for a new fire station.
Combining dispatch was put off in the past for monetary reasons, but with the support of Town Meeting, police and town officials are ready to move forward.

“The time is now,” Ross said.

Construction is expected to begin in January or February and be completed by early July, Whitcomb said. A construction company and final layout have not been chosen yet, but is expected to cost about $1 million.

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A No-Brainer For MIT

Filling In The Gaps In Kendall Square

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
August 30, 2015

kendall sq

When it trades in its lab goggles for a developer’s hardhat, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is no different from any other investor looking for the highest return.

In Cambridge’s Kendall Square, home to Greater Boston’s highest commercial rents and scarcest vacancies, MIT sees better uses for 8 acres of prime real estate it owns than the current jumble of parking lots and aging classroom buildings, labs and graduate housing. The final phase of permitting has begun for 1.8 million square feet of offices, labs retail shops and apartments.

The project gives MIT an opportunity to cash in on the booming Kendall Square market, where average lab rents have hit $85 per square foot.

“It’s going to be the most expensive space in Cambridge. It could be in excess of $100 per square foot,” predicted John Osten, a managing partner with JLL.

Large Users Dominate Pipeline

As Kendall Square has attained new peaks as a global tech and life science hub, office vacancy rates have fallen to 3.6 percent in the 6.4-million-square-foot East Cambridge market, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s MarketBeat report.

Lab space is even tighter, with a 2.7 percent vacancy rate at the end of the second quarter. Average gross rental rates were nearly $70 per square foot for office space and $85 for lab space.

There are currently only three options in the neighborhood for companies looking for more than 20,000 square feet, according to Boston-based brokerage Cresa. That has set up competition from other submarkets, primarily low-rise space in downtown Boston, for early-stage companies that want to be near the MBTA’s Red Line.

But the prospect for three large new office and lab buildings in Kendall Square isn’t expected to loosen up the market significantly.

Companies’ space requirements exceed availabilities in Kendall Square by a 4-to-1 ratio, and large credit tenants will lease MIT’s space well before it’s completed, JLL’s Osten predicts.

So tight is the market, some industry leaders have leased space in a defensive strategy to lock down real estate well into the next decade.

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