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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.


Trinity Financial Buys Two Dorchester Parcels For Transit-Oriented Housing Complex

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
July 2, 2015

Peabody SquareBoston-based Trinity Financial has completed its acquisition of two parcels in Dorchester’s Peabody Square where an 81-unit mixed-income residential complex is expected to break ground in early 2016.

The six-story development at the Ashmont Tire property will include 39 condominiums and 42 apartments, said Kenan Bigby, vice president for Trinity Financial.

All of the rental units will be reserved for qualified affordable tenants, with a 50-50 split between those earning no more than 100 and 80 percent of the area median income. Four of the condos will be income-restricted. The project also includes 4,000 square feet of retail space.

Trinity paid $3 million to acquire the parcels at 1961-1987 Dorchester Ave. and 4 Fuller St. on June 26, according to Suffolk County Registry of Deeds records.

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Port Norfolk weighs new plan for waterfront housing

Dorchester Reporter | By Lauren Dezenski
July 2, 2015

Residents on Port Norfolk have begun conversations about a potential residential development at the Russo Marine site next to Venezia Restaurant. The 206-unit development, proposed by Venezia Restaurant’s owner Ralph Bruno, would be located at 18 Ericsson St. A preliminary rendering was presented to the Port Norfolk Civic Association earlier this month.

“It’s twice the size, in terms of units, of what’s already on the peninsula,” said John Lyons, the president of the civic association. “There are questions about traffic, water and sewer capacity, and whether it would change the character of the neighborhood.”

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Hotel proposed for Foxfield Plaza

The Foxboro Reporter | By Frank Mortimer
July 2, 2015

A Rhode Island developer is proposing to redevelop Foxfield Plaza with a hotel and one or more restaurants, town officials said Wednesday.

Jeffrey Saletin, of Saletin Real Estate Group in Cranston, presented the hotel concept for that Central Street location in a recent meeting with town manager Bill Keegan, planning board chairman and vice chairman Kevin Weinfeld and Bill Grieder, the officials confirmed.

“He said the company wants to start construction this fall or spring,” Keegan said.

Keegan said he worked with the company on the successful “repurposing” of a K-Mart mall when he was town manager in Seekonk.

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“My experience with working with Saletin group was very positive,” Keegan said.

“They were proactive in addressing the needs that the town had identified.”

At the recent meeting, in the office of attorney Frank Spillane, Saletin’s team “showed us a very preliminary plan that includes a hotel and either two restaurants or a bank and a restaurant” in Foxboro Plaza, Weinfeld said.

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Suffolk University sheds buildings, redirects proceeds for campus upgrades

Boston Business Journal | By Craig Douglas
July 2, 2015

Suffolk University has sold two of its Boston-campus properties for $43.5 million to an affiliate of Center Court Properties of New York.

The deal closed July 1 and came roughly five months after Suffolk first tapped JLL’s capital markets team in Boston to list the properties. The sale included the Gleason L. & Hiram J. Archer building at 20 Derne St. and the Frank J. Donahue Building at 41 Temple St.

Based at 156 West 56 St. in New York, Center Court Properties is run by David Ridini, Dave Raftery and Matthew Snyder. The firm has operated in Massachusetts under the name JDMD Holdings since June 23.

The two properties combine for 175,000 square feet of connected space at the rear of the Massachusetts Statehouse on Beacon Hill.

The properties are considered a prime location among real estate investors and was initially marketed by JLL (NYSE: JLL) as a redevelopment opportunity for potential residential, retail and office uses.

According to financial filings, Suffolk intends to use proceeds from the sale to finance the following:

  • the renovation of the 5th floor of David J. Sargent Hall at 110-120 Tremont St. for its Sawyer Business School.
  • the renovation of the 8th, 9th, and other floors of the Rosalie K. Stahl Center at 73 Tremont St. for administrative and academic uses.

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Elliptical Office Tower In Seaport ‘Will Redefine Skyline’

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
July 1, 2015

Developer Skanska USA is set to begin construction of 121 Seaport, an 18-story elliptical office tower designed by CBT Architects in Boston’s Seaport District.

The slender shape of the 425,000-square-foot structure on Seaport Boulevard “will redefine the South Boston Seaport skyline” and its diagonal orientation on the parcel will allow more sunlight to reach the nearby Seaport Square Green and District Hall innovation center, according to documents submitted by CBT to the Boston Civic Design Commission. The unusual shape also is influenced by site constraints: the MBTA Silver Line tunnel runs under the northeast corner of the property.

The continuing buildout of office towers on former parking lots in the Seaport has attracted critiques of bland, boxy office buildings and apartment towers designed to maximize leasable space. Buildings also are subject to height limits imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration because the neighborhood is located under a flight path from Logan Airport.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has urged developers and their architecture teams to think bold when designing new structures in the city’s continuing building boom.

“The (development sites) that are left in the city on the waterfront, we have an opportunity to really make it a little bit more spectacular,” Walsh told Banker & Tradesman following a groundbreaking in the Seaport in November. “I think a couple of buildings that stand out wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

The building also will include 38,000 square feet of retail space in a two-story podium. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held July 9, Boston Redevelopment Authority spokesman Nicholas Martin said.

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Roche Brothers pulls out of 240 Elm St. in Somerville

Supermarket giant Roche Brothers will not bring a store to 240 Elm St. in Davis Square.

Wicked Local Somerville | By Dan Atkinson
June 25, 2015

Supermarket giant Roche Brothers will not bring a store to 240 Elm St. in Davis Square.

In a statement, marketing director Dena Zigun wrote the plan to bring a Brothers Marketplace, a smaller version of a Roche Brothers supermarket, had fallen through.

“We were excited by the prospect of bringing Brothers Marketplace to the Davis Square neighborhood; however, this particular project did not work out as we had hoped,” the statement read in its entirety.

When pressed for more information, a spokesperson said the statement was the only information given.

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Solar power still needs to get much cheaper. Are perovskites the answer?

MSN | By Brad Plumer
July 1, 2015

REC Solar ASA manufacturing facilityIn the future, solar power won’t just come from bulky blue panels on rooftops. The solar panels of tomorrow will be transparent, lightweight, flexible, and ultra-efficient. We’ll be able to coat shingles or skylights or windows with them — and it’ll all be as cheap as putting up wallpaper.

And these solar cells will be made from a new material called perovskite.

At least, that’s the vision sketched out in this fascinating new Scientific American essay by three solar researchers: Varun Sivaram, Samuel Stranks, and Henry Snaith. They note that scientists are doing incredible things with perovskite solar cells in the lab, achieving huge leaps in performance very rapidly. In theory, perovskites should be able to vastly surpass silicon, the material we currently use for solar panels — and, potentially, make solar power much, much cheaper.

“Time will tell,” Sivaram has written elsewhere of perovskites, “but many of us believe this is the field’s biggest breakthrough since the original invention of the solar cell sixty years ago.”

That line piqued my interest, so I called up Sivaram, now the Douglas Dillon Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, to chat about perovskites. What he stressed, however, was that there are still huge, daunting hurdles to overcome. Perovskites perform spectacularly well in laboratory settings, but they still degrade when they come in contact with moisture and aren’t yet durable enough to be deployed in the real world.

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Applebee’s makes way for hotel, housing

Wicked Local Brookline | Ignacio Laguarda
June 30, 2015

Circle CinemaBROOKLINE The Applebee’s at Cleveland Circle is slated to close today, as the future development that will take its place was approved by the Brookline Planning Board last week.

The developer of the Circle Cinema mixed-use project, which will include senior housing, said he hopes to have all the permits for the development by this fall. Ted Tye, managing partner of Newton-based National Development, said getting unanimous support from the Planning Board was a “big milestone” in moving the project forward.

The project includes a 162-room hotel and 92-unit residential building at the corner of Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue. The development will also include retail and a restaurant or two.

The design of the project features a courtyard between the residential and hotel buildings. Another element of the design will be the use of the old “Circle” sign that stands at the site currently, and will be placed on top of the new building.

A pair of local women has been trying to preserve the mid-century metal relic that stood above the former Circle Cinema. Last year, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved the $85 million redevelopment project, which straddles the Brookline/Brighton line.

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Construction’s May Spending Up Slightly, Posts Strong Year-Over-Year Gain

Engineering News-Record | By Tom Ichniowski

Construction spending edged up 0.8% in May from April’s level but climbed a more robust 8.2% year over year, the Commerce Dept. has reported.

The latest monthly figures finished construction projects, which Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau released on July 1, showed that the value of projects put in place in May totaled an annual rate of $1.036 trillion, adjusted for seasonal variations.

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, observed that May’s 8.2% year-over-year increase was the largest gain since March 2014, an indication of a more rapid overall construction spending pace.

For the first five months of 2015, construction spending totaled $382.1 billion, a 5.9% increase from January to May of last year.

For May, residential construction was up 0.3% from April’s level, to $366.1 billion and also increased 8.2% from May 2014’s rate, the Census Bureau said.

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Council Approves 59-Unit Water Street Housing Plan Downtown

July 1, 2015

85 Water StreetPlans for a 59-unit multifamily dwelling on Water Street will move forward as the Haverhill City council granted a special permit Tuesday night for the new development, on the former Friend’s Landing site, 85 Water St.

Councilors unanimously passed an amended special permit request from Frank Franzone and Water Street Waterfront LLC by a vote of 7 to 0. Councilors Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien and Colin LePage were absent. There was no public opposition. Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan called the project “a great proposal” that would complement the ongoing Harbor Place development on Merrimack Street.

“It’s been a long time and you’ve been through a lot. And I think you’ve hit it on the head. We all know, we’ve been told and I agree, the future development of Haverhill for residential is going to be either on the river or closer to the highways. That’s basically where the bulk of future development is going in the city and that’s why we established the waterfront zoning ordinance, because we wanted to protect public access to the river as developments such as this take place, Sullivan said.

“It’s going to provide a nice level of housing. We don’t how much we’re going to sell these for yet, but in my business we guess. And I’m guessing probably in the mid “twos” to up to maybe high “threes.” That’s where the market might be right now anyway for housing such as this. And there’s a need for that type of housing in Haverhill and it’s going to complement Harbor Place very nicely and it’s going to complement what’s going on, on Merrimack Street and Washington Street as well,” Sullivan said.

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ZBA approves apartment complex along Arsenal

Wicked Local Watertown | By Charlie Breitrose
June 30, 2015

Elan Apartment ComplexWATERTOWN The Zoning Board of Appeals tackled two major projects this week, giving approval for a major apartment complex along Arsenal Street and, for the first time, reviewed plans for a proposed hotel on the East End of Watertown.

The Elan apartment complex at the corner of Arsenal and Irving streets would have 282 apartments and more than 10,000 square feet of retail space. This was the second hearing for the project in front of the ZBA, and the board unanimously approved the development.

Some work still remains because the project includes a half-acre park that has yet to be designed. The project was the first to go through the town’s new design standards and guidelines, and ZBA Chairwoman Melissa Santucci Rozzi said she is pleased with the outcome. “Thank you for your investment,” Santucci Rozzi said. “We are extremely fortunate to have a developer of your caliber in town. Most communities would beg to have them in their community.”

The project will transform a former industrial site into a modern residential complex, said ZBA member Chris Gannon. “I grew up in this community and saw it as an active brick yard with train cars coming through,” Gannon said. “I am pleased with the outcome.”

The ZBA saw a few changes in the designs, mostly in the bridge that links the west and east buildings. Board members asked for the columns holding up the bridge to be removed. To do so, architects had to narrow the bridge. “I think we can really call it a bridge now,” said Tom Schultz of The Architectural Team. “The supports are not columns, and are up against the building.”

The bridge will span a central driveway, which will link Arsenal Street to the back of the property near Phillips Street. While vehicles will be able to go through the site, they will not be allowed to continue onto Phillips Street. Walkers and bikers can go onto Phillips Street, which will create a connection to Mt. Auburn Street.

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Plan for 69-unit residential, retail complex at Masonic building

Wicked Local Malden | By Steve Ryan
June 30, 2015

MALDEN The Malden Masonic Building on Pleasant Street will likely be getting a new life as a 69-unit apartment complex, with the architects promising to preserve the building’s historical look by maintaining the current exterior.

The City Council’s Finance Committee approved giving the project a tax increment exemption at a June 22 meeting. The exemption is an incentive that would basically tax the project based on a base assessed value of the property for up to 20 years, without taking into account increases in property value. The full City Council would still need to approve the move.

The developers, 126-150 Pleasant Street Associates LLC, also have to go before the Planning Board. The building was shut down and was going to be taken into receivership by the city, before the developers took control of the property, after it was found to be in serious disrepair.

The developers’ plan would maintain the building’s façade, while constructing an addition in the rear of the structure. It would be registered as a historical place, according to the developers. “I believe keeping the façade this way is huge,” said Council Neil Kinnon, Ward 6. “If we were to deny this, I would get rid of the building.

Sixty-nine [units] is a lot better than 150 or more…And instead of a wall that all looks the same going down the street, this preserves the historical character.” The current structure would house some of the units, while the addition will include house the majority of them.

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South Boston residents object to latest condo proposal

The Boston Globe | By Sara Dinatale
July 1, 2015

Virgin Mary ShrineResidents of Old Harbor Street in South Boston, fighting a condominium complex planned for a plot of land with a quaint garden and a statue of the Virgin Mary , said Tuesday the new housing will make their longstanding parking problems even worse.

The campaign sprung up after the Marian Manor nursing home decided to sell one of its nearby parcels on Old Harbor to the Cronin Group, a Boston-based developer.

“There just isn’t enough space,” said Phyllis Allison, 54, who has lived a few houses from the piece of land in the Dorchester Heights area for a decade. “All conversations in South Boston come back to parking.”

About 30 people who live near the planned nine-unit condo complex attended a meeting held by the Cronin Group Tuesday night at Marian Manor. Not one person in the audience voiced support for construction of the condos, which need the approval of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Allison and others worry that new condo residents would exacerbate the parking woes in the area.

Kristin Flaherty Ventresca, 50, has lived on Old Harbor Street for 20 years. She said residents can be circling “for hours” trying to find a space if they get home too late past 6 p.m.

“You don’t go out after 7 p.m.,” Ventresca said. “Our quality of life is just really suffering.”

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All eyes on Volpe: Huge plans leave Cambridge councilors feeling rushed

Wicked Local Cambridge | By Sara Feijo
June 30, 2015

CAMBRIDGE Many Cambridge City Councilors say they feel rushed as they weigh in a Planning Board petition to amend the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center parcel in Kendall Square.

The petition, a conceptual framework of what could be built on the parcel, proposes changes to the city’s PUD-KS District, which is mostly occupied by the Volpe site.

The Planning Board and Ordinance Committee must vote on the petition, which will then go before the City Council. As part of the process, the city released three-dimensional models of four theoretical scenarios for the Volpe parcel, including a large 1,000-foot commercial tower.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the federal Department of Transportation are hoping to convert the existing 14-acre campus — composed of six buildings built in the 1960s and in need of major repairs and alterations — into a new state-of-the-art facility of up to 400,000 gross square feet for up to 1,300 personnel and parking spaces. GSA issued a request for information last August from developers interested in acquiring the land and expanding the development.

The government is looking for a company to create a new home for the transportation center on Broadway, Third and Binney streets in exchange for ownership of a portion of the land.

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Harvard looks to expand campus center; plan reduces open space near Au Bon Pain

Wicked Local Cambridge | By Sara Feijo
June 30, 2015

Harvard UniversityCAMBRIDGE Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series about proposed changes to Harvard Square. Next week, the Chronicle will report on a proposal to revamp Out of Town News.

The iconic Harvard Square Forbes Plaza is known for its large outdoor seating area, where street performers and chess aficionados gather around built-in chessboards.

But a recent Harvard University proposal to renovate parts of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, formally known as the Holyoke Center, would eliminate approximately 20 percent of the existing beloved outdoor space at Forbes Plaza — much of the well-known al fresco dining area at Au Bon Pain, across the street from the MBTA Red Line T station on Massachusetts Avenue.

The proposal, which received a certificate of appropriateness from the Cambridge Historical Commission, favorable recommendation from the Planning Board and support from the Harvard Square Advisory Committee, is before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for height and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) variances and a zoning relief for alteration and expansion of a nonconforming building.

Harvard representatives say the goal of the project is to foster greater public engagement — not just outdoors but also indoors with enhanced retail space, improved wheelchair access on the plaza, increased interior landscaping, and seven additional trees planted outside.

Some residents, however, feel Forbes Plaza, a landmark enjoyed by the community, would no longer be a place that draws people together. “We may as well rename Harvard Square Harvard’s Square. Harvard doesn’t need anymore glittering window-dressing or programmatic spaces,” Thompson E. Potter Jr., a Martin Street resident, said at a BZA hearing on Thursday, June 25. “Forbes Plaza belongs to a community far wider and far more diverse than Harvard real estate, Harvard Square Business Association and Harvard Board of Overseers.”

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