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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.

Downtown Crossing Is Improving, According to Area Business Leaders

A panel of experts says that part of town is rapidly changing for the better.

Boston Magazine | By John A. Keith
August 18, 2014

Downtown CrossingThe 575 guests who attended Bisnow‘s Future of Downtown Boston Summit last week heard mostly positive things about Downtown Crossing from the event’s featured speakers. That’s an improvement for the neighborhood, which has suffered greatly during the past 60 years, ever since visitors to Boston abandoned our city’s primary shopping district for the malls of the suburbs.

Larry DiCara, a historian and former City Councilor, kicked things off with his typical flair for the unexpected, calling for the relocation of City Hall to Winthrop Square and the end of buses on the streets of downtown Boston. Then Paul McMorrow, of Commonwealth Magazine, moderated a keynote interview with Tony Pangaro and Ron Druker. His first question was regarding the state of Downtown Crossing as it is now, and what the biggest challenge is to keeping it on the right track toward greater success.

To Anthony Pangaro of Millennium Partners, the company behind the Ritz-Carlton Towers and Millennium Place condominium developments and the under-construction Burnham Building / Millennium Tower project, the biggest threat to the neighborhood’s growth is the lack of a focus on transportation. “Downtown Crossing has five transit lines, very good local bus service, as well as two commuter rail stations,” said Pangaro, who spent seven years putting together the MBTA’s Southwest Corridor project in the 1970s. “Infrastructure is crucial. I think the crossroads that we’re at—we’ve got to reinvest or we’re going to lose the thing that keeps us alive. We’ve got a greater density, people without cars, but at some point our transit system is the lifeblood. If we let it go, what we’re doing today won’t work for very much longer.”

Ronald Druker, of the Druker Company, agreed. As he told the crowd, the three most important things in real estate are “transportation, transportation, and transportation.” To him, Downtown Crossing has something that no other neighborhood in Boston can replicate: it’s the nexus of where people must go through; the result of that is the differentiating factor between Downtown Crossing and the Seaport District. “In the Downtown Crossing, there is a fabric, a feeling that you’re in the city,” said Druker. “Old, new, a difference in demographics, the feel of a city. The Seaport is never going to feel like the heart of the city.”

The second half of the summit was moderated by Allen Lynch, a partner at Nixon Peabody. Panelists Rosemarie Sansone of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District and Margaret Ann Ings of Emerson College sang the praises of Downtown Crossing; they didn’t dwell on the problems that still exist the neighborhood—the things that are noticeable to anyone spending any amount of time there. The row of empty storefronts, the people who hang around all day, how it’s deserted after 6 at night. Little was said about the negative effects Downtown Crossing’s resurgence is having on the residents of Chinatown, just down the street.

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Say goodbye to the Birds Eye

Site demolition making way for Fort hotel

Gloucester Times | By James Niedzinski
August 19, 2014

The day of reckoning for the old Birds Eye industrial building has finally come.

Crews from Windover Construction, now based in Beverly, have begun tearing apart portions of the building on Commercial Street.

The building where Clarence Birdseye developed the first modern food freezing techniques is being torn down to make way for Beauport Hotel.

The hotel is the brainchild of New Balance chairman Jim Davis and Cruiseport Gloucester proprietor Sheree DeLorenzo Zizik, under the company Beauport Gloucester LLC. And after a lengthy permitting process, legal challenges, revisions and public hearings, the time has come for the building to come down.

Lee Dellicker, Windover’s president and architect for the hotel project, said the process started about a month ago with some initial site visits and investigations. Now, crews are tearing out asbestos and making sure there are no other hazardous materials in the building.

The demolition plan is to “pull the building in on itself, to limit debris from the property,” Dellicker said.

Once the building is finally demolished, the next step will be to ensure that there are no hazardous materials in the soil, Dellicker said, adding that there is no anticipation of finding any.

That will be followed by two to three months of seawall construction, he said. The seawall plans had to be pushed more inland under conditions of two separate settlements reached with Mortillaro’s Lobster Co. and the Port Community Alliance residents’ group, both of which had filed legal challenges against the project in 2013.

The start of the demolition process — the first tangible on-site steps toward the development of the hotel — also comes as the city is gearing up to carry out infrastructure work around Fort Square. That project is estimated to cost $7.5 million, with a total of $2 million of that coming from Beauport Gloucester LLC.

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Amgen enters heavyweight fray for Kendall Square’s few remaining blocks of space

Boston Business Journal | By Craig Douglas
August 19, 2014

AmgenAs if things couldn’t get more competitive in East Cambridge’s office and lab market: Drug giant Amgen Inc. is on the prowl for another 150,000 square feet of space.

The news comes a day after the Boston Business Journal first reported that Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) was seeking up to 200,000 square feet of new space in East Cambridge and less than two months after a Page 1 story on the stealthy push by local real estate and business development officials to relocate the U.S. headquarters of a major biotechnology firm to the neighborhood. That effort, known locally as Project Tiger, is anticipated to sweep another 400,000 square feet of office and lab space off the East Cambridge market.

To put this flurry of prospective deals in context, consider the following: The East Cambridge office and research market includes only 6.4 million square feet — meaning these three deals alone could lock up about 10 percent of the neighborhood’s entire inventory when all is said and done. The activity, along with strong leasing among major information-technology players, is fueling a pricing surge in East Cambridge that has seen average annual rents surpass $58 per square foot, by far the highest in the region and among the highest for any neighborhood in the country, according to market data provided by Cassidy Turley in Boston.

“It’s getting to that point where tenants are beginning to compete for space,” said one local broker who is involved in some of East Cambridge’s major lease negotiations and asked not to be identified. “I’ve really only seen this once, maybe twice before, around the late ’90s and dot.com era.”

An Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN) spokeswoman confirmed that the company is indeed in the market for additional space, although it is likely to be temporary in nature; she said the company is intent on building out its Cambridge presence, but that the long-term plan is to add to the company’s current home at 360 Binney St.

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A shift in the waterfront tower wars

The Boston Globe | By Paul McMorrow
August 19, 2014

THE FOLKS who live in Harbor Towers have a serious image problem, and they know it. There is, after all, something absurd about a group of wealthy people who live in 40-story towers along the waterfront complaining loudly that somebody else wants to erect tall buildings next door.

So the people of that luxury condo association are shifting gears. Harbor Towers’ leadership now says it wants to take the debate over the future of Don Chiofaro’s hated Harbor Garage — an urban eyesore he proposes to replace with two towers that would rise between 550 and 600 feet — beyond a narrow fight over tall buildings. This, they say, should be about the best way to make that part of downtown work better for Boston as a whole.

It’s hard to know if they are sincere about that. But one way or another, they are setting up the final round in a development battle that has dragged on for years.

Chiofaro’s massive Harbor Garage sits on an acre between Boston Harbor and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. It also sits next to Harbor Towers, a pair of 400-foot condominium towers that house the loudest and best-organized opponents of Chiofaro’s proposed development.

Chiofaro’s waterfront towers would certainly change the view for the residents of Harbor Towers. And for that reason, nobody has fought Chiofaro harder than the trustees of Harbor Towers.

The move is a tacit admission that objections from Harbor Towers are no longer enough to derail Chiofaro’s project.

When Tom Menino was mayor of Boston — and engaged in his long feud with Chiofaro — loud complaints from the Towers’ residents were enough to keep construction cranes off their block and away from the complex’s million-dollar views. But a new mayor who is actively seeking detente with Chiofaro has turned that calculus upside down.

So now Harbor Towers’ trustees are positioning themselves not as aggrieved abutters, but as voices for the city at large. They say they don’t want to stonewall Chiofaro, but only to reshape the Harbor Garage redevelopment in a way that creates compelling links between that site and the city around it.

This abrupt turn for Harbor Towers is likely to end in one of two ways: Either they end up assenting to a significant redevelopment of the Harbor Garage, or they keep voicing the same complaints they’ve been airing for years — and discredit themselves in the process.

The Harbor Towers trustees said this week that they’ve hired George Thrush, the director of Northeastern University’s architecture school, to formulate their design response to Chiofaro’s redevelopment plans. Thrush is an architect who has little sympathy for NIMBY-ism or for people with a reflexive fear of tall buildings. He recently helped pave the way for the construction of a 699-foot-tall tower at the Christian Science Center in the Back Bay.

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250 Residential Units Approved At Boston Landing

Banker & Tradesman
August 18, 2014

Boston LandingThe Boston Redevelopment authority approved the addition of 250 residential units to the $500 million Boston Landing mixed-use project in Brighton.

Developer Boston Landing LLC recently added the residential plans to the project, which is anchored by the New Balance Headquarters on Guest Street.

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Nonprofit to transform vacant Roxbury parcel into housing

Boston Business Journal | By Thomas Grillo
August 15, 2014

The ClarionThe Community Builders, a Boston-based nonprofit developer, has filed plans to convert a long vacant parcel near Roxbury’s Grove Hall into a $10 million mixed-use housing development.

Under the proposal filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority on Friday, TCB plans to construct “The Clarion,” a pair of buildings totaling 67,000 square feet on the city-owned one-acre site at 311 Blue Hill Ave. The project site includes eight lots that have been acquired by the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development since the 1970s, many for nonpayment of taxes.

A ground breaking is set for next year on a four-story and a two-story building that would contain a total of 40 apartments with 5,000 square feet of space for community use on the first floor. Thirteen of the units will be market rate.

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Bristol-Myers Squibb targets major block of space in East Cambridge

Boston Business Journal | Craig Douglass
August 18, 2014

Bristol-Myers Squibb is on the hunt for up to 200,000 square feet of office and lab space in Cambridge, the latest major life sciences firm to crowd into one of the hottest commercial real estate markets in the country.

Local real estate sources confirmed that the New York-based pharmaceutical giant, which already occupies 60,000 square feet of space in Waltham as well as 400,000 square feet in Devens, is targeting new research and administrative space in East Cambridge’s Kendall Square neighborhood, home to some of the biggest drug and technology developers in the world. The timing of the move is dependent on when Bristol-Myers can lock up new space, and it remains unclear whether the deal will support an expansion or a consolidation of the company’s operations in the months ahead.

Bristol-Myers employs about 100 people within its Adnexus R&D unit at 100 Beaver St. in Waltham. The company employs hundreds more at its manufacturing complex in Devens and another smaller space in Hopkinton.

The news comes just months after the Boston Business Journal first reported that a team of Massachusetts political and business officials are assisting another drug developer in relocating its U.S. headquarters to Cambridge from out of state. Known in local life sciences and real estate circles as “Project Tiger,” the effort is being led by a brokerage team at Transwestern | RBJ in Boston that is seeking an initial 150,000 to 200,000 square feet of office space, with the expectation of adding up to another 200,000 square feet of research and laboratory space once its client’s primary move is complete.

People familiar with both deals have confirmed that Bristol-Myers Squibb is not the corporation behind Project Tiger.

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AOL just became the first tenant to move in to former Filene’s site

Boston Business Journal | David Harris
August 18, 2014

AOL FilenesAOL officially became the first tenant to move in to the renovated Burnham Building in Boston’s Downtown Crossing this morning.

The New York-based media and tech company moved about 50 employees into sixth floor office space. AOL (NYSE :AOL) moved its local operations there from 2 Oliver St. in the Financial District.

Next Monday, 600 employees from advertising firm Arnold Worldwide and its sister agency Havas Media will move into about 125,000 square feet of the building, at the corner of Washington and Summer streets.

The Burnham Building is part of Millennium Partners’ $689 million redevelopment plan for the vacant site of the former Filene’s Department Store. The renovation of the building — originally completed in 1912 for the former Filene’s department store and the only structure in Boston designed by notable Chicago architect Daniel Burnham — began in the summer of 2013.

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Eat Barbecue And Help Plan Union Square’s Future

Banker & Tradesman
August 18, 2014

The Chicago-based real estate company recently selected as master developer of Somerville’s Union Square will host a community kickoff event on Tuesday night to discuss its vision for the future of the neighborhood.

The event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. is the first in a series of forums sponsored by Union Square Station Assoc. (US2), a venture by Magellan Development of Chicago. The city of Somerville has approved a zoning plan that calls for 2.3 million square feet of commercial and residential development in the neighborhood. The public is invited to eat barbecue, meet US2 staff members and share ideas on whiteboards that will be set up around Union Square’s plaza.

Tuesday’s event is the start of a 100-day community engagement campaign by US2 that will include a “civic summit” showcasing pioneering technologies that enhance civic life.

US2′s 100-day plan also includes expanding its website with plans in the next month for an online engagement tool allowing for idea sharing and dialogue with the community, and its digital presence on social media through Twitter and Facebook.

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The 10-largest construction projects in Massachusetts

Boston Business Journal | By Craig Douglas and Thomas Grillo
August 18, 2014

MBTA Green Line Extension

MBTA Green Line Extension – Somerville, Medford, Cambridge – $700 million – Nov. 2020 completion – Built by Skanska USA, J.F. White, Kiewit

Construction is booming in the United States after years of weakness, and the ripple effect is having a noticeable effect on Boston’s skyline and employment roles.

U.S. employment in the construction sector hit 6.04 million positions in July, the highest point on record since mid 2009, according to the Association for Corporate Growth, a Washington lobbying group for the building trades.

The job total was about 4 percent, or 211,000 positions, higher than what was reported a year earlier and helped drive the sector’s unemployment rate down to 7.5 percent — it’s lowest level since 2007, according to ACG. The year-over-year hiring increase was more or less evenly split between the residential and commercial building trades, with homebuilders accounting for 115,000 new positions, or 54 percent of the net increase.

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Novartis Institute

Millenium TowerBringham and Women's

Ink Block

GE Healthcare to move U.S. life sciences HQ to Mass., but no one’s saying where

Boston Business Journal | By Don Seiffert
August 14, 2014

While GE Healthcare says it will create “a significant number of new jobs” in the Bay State by moving its Life Sciences division’s U.S. headquarters here, it’s not saying where exactly it will be located, or when the move will happen.

The company released a brief statement Wednesday in response to media inquiries saying that “a project is currently underway to create a new U.S. headquarters in Massachusetts for the Life Sciences division.” The company did not provide further details except to say that in addition to jobs, the new headquarters will create “economic activity.”

The Life Science division, currently headquartered in Piscataway, N.J., employs 400 people, according to NJBIZ, a business publication in New Jersey. GE Healthcare filed a WARN notice with that state indicating plans to lay off 218 employees, according to NJBIZ.

GE Healthcare, a $3.7 billion, UK-based subsidiary of the Connecticut-based global conglomerate General Electric (NYSE: GE), has an MRI center in Wilmington, as well as offices in Boston, East Bridgewater and Westborough. The division sells tools for a basic research of cells and proteins, drug discovery and large-scale manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals.

The company has been in discussion with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center since June 2013 about a possible move, said Angus McQuilken, after the MLSC coincidentally set up a booth next to GE Healthcare at last year’s meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Boston.

Susan Windham-Bannister, the outgoing president of the MLSC — a $1 billion, 10-year initiative by Gov. Deval Patrick to boost the area’s global dominance in the biotech and medical device industries — declined to say where GE Healthcare’s new life science headquarters would be in the state, saying only that the company is “looking at a couple options.” The company itself did not respond to a request for comment earlier today seeking any information or even a timeline for the move.

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Electrical Workers vs. the EPA

We union members oppose new anticarbon rules that will cost jobs and endanger the grid.

The Wall Street Journal | By Edwin Hill
August 14, 2014

Late last month more than 1,600 witnesses testified at hearings held by the Environmental Protection Agency on its Clean Power Plan, which will impose drastic, 30% cuts in carbon emissions by 2030, with most of the cuts taking place by 2020. The EPA’s proposal has attracted such a large response for a very good reason. The plan would have a dramatic impact on the American economy but only a minimal effect on global carbon emissions.

The EPA’s plan, according to its own estimates, will require closing coal-fired power plants over the next five years that generate between 41 and 49 gigawatts (49,000 megawatts) of electricity. That’s approximately enough capacity to power the state of Georgia at any given time. Unless that capacity is replaced, the nationwide equivalent of the Peach State would go dark.

When gauged by accepted industry metrics, the agency’s plans also would result in the loss of some 52,000 permanent direct jobs in utilities, mining and rail and at least another 100,000 jobs in related industries. High-skill, middle-class jobs would be lost, falling heavily in rural communities that have few comparable employment opportunities.

The U.S. is already facing the loss of 60 gigawatts of power over the next three years, the result of older coal plants’ being forced to shut down because they cannot comply with the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards enacted in 2012. At the time, the EPA claimed that only four gigawatts of capacity would be lost. Those of us familiar with the industry knew better, and the agency now does not contest that 60 gigawatts of coal-generated electricity will be lost. Ninety percent of the plants slated to close due to the MATS rule were needed to provide power during the polar vortex and other periods of severe weather last winter. Is the EPA willing to gamble that we won’t have another harsh winter in the next five years?

The U.S. cannot lose more than 100 gigawatts of power in five years without severely compromising the reliability and safety of the electrical grid. That would pose a danger for the entire economy and all Americans.

Replacing the electricity lost as coal plants are closed will require building or retrofitting facilities powered by other sources, the costs of which will be borne by consumers. Natural gas is the only energy source that could conceivably meet the expected demand over the next five years.

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Towering numbers: Boston’s highest-valued commercial real estate

Boston Business Journal | By Thomas Grillo
August 15, 2014

John Hancock Tower

John Hancock Tower
200 Clarendon St.
Owner: Boston Properties
Assessed value: $648 million
Tax $20.2 million




When it comes to the biggest property tax bills in Boston, it’s a dead heat between Equity Office, owned by Blackstone Real Estate Partners, and Boston Properties.

Equity is the biggest taxpayer with a tax liability of $83.5 million for its eight office towers in the Financial District assessed at $2.67 billion.

Boston Properties is a close second with its four downtown properties including the John Hancock Tower and Prudential Center paying a total of $81.9 million in taxes for its property assessed at $2.64 billion.

The city’s commercial tax rate is $31.18 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from $31.96 last year. For fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30, the city collected $1.1 billion in commercial tax levies. The assessed value of a property does not always reflect the actual value since the data is lagging. For example, One Beacon, the 34-story tower at the edge of the Financial District, recently sold for $561.5 million, but is assessed at $341 million.

For a look at the top 20 buildings in the city, how much they are valued and how much each cost in real estate taxes, see our slide show.

125 High st.

125 High St.
Owner: Tishman Speyer
Assessed value: $554 million
Tax: $17.2 million








Copley PlaceCopley Place
100 Huntington Ave.
Owner: Simon Property Group
Assessed value: $468 million
Tax $14.5 million




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Suffolk Sponsors Subcontractor Development Program

Banker & Tradesman
August 14, 2014

Boston-based Suffolk Construction will launch its third-annual Subcontractor Development Series to assist disadvantaged, minority and women-owned subcontractor firms beginning Sept. 4.

The no-cost program consists of eight sessions. Participants will learn about Suffolk’s approach to construction management, including lean construction principals and web-based collaboration tools, and developing relationships with union affiliations to gain greater access to Suffolk projects.

The series will be offered exclusively to union and non-union subcontractors that are certified by the Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) or Women Owned Business Enterprise…

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What’s Next for Booming Downtown

Boston BisNow
August 14, 2014

BisNow Future of DowntownThe 575 guests at Bisnow’s Future of Downtown event yesterday heard about the transcendent changes underway in the heart of the city. But for all the improvements, much remains to be done and the speakers weren’t shy about enumerating the tasks at hand. (Don’t ask these panelists how your outfit looks, because they are very honest.)

In introductory remarks, Nixon Peabody partner Larry DiCara hit on big issues that arose during the event: improving zoning and transportation. The panel moderated by Nixon Peabody partner Allen Lynch, highlighted the city’s great promise but warned that its arduous permitting, restrictive zoning, and impediments to developing affordable housing could hold back progress.

Back in the day, Larry’s parents emigrated from Italy to first settle downtown and then moved to the “promised land”—Dorchester. After decades of out migration, there’s now a new wave of downtown residents breathing life back into the center city. This rising tide presents the Walsh Administration with a chance to “undo the mistakes of the past,” Larry says. Zoning should allow more as-of-right development. Boston needs more taxis and fewer buses clogging narrow streets. It’s a time for bold action: relocate City Hall and reposition the “brutalist dinosaur” that is the current seat of municipal government, he says.

So many property owners were in the audience because downtown is Boston’s vital core. As everyone knows, three things are important to real estate: “transportation, transportation, and transportation”, says Ron whose portfolio is packed with downtown commercial property. Companies on Rt 128 and from other states will move here to be where the action and the transit is plentiful, he adds. Landlords launched the Downtown BID to promote, maintain and secure the area. But it doesn’t have the capital-raising authority needed to upgrade streets and other infrastructure. The BID has to seek assistance from the public sector to do the improvements.

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