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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.


Apartments comprise almost 80% of Boston’s housing projects so far this year

Boston Business Journal | By Catherine Carlock
May 21, 2015

Ink Block HousingThe city of Boston has permitted 13,000 housing units since January 2011, with another 8,000 units approved, putting the city on track to meet Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s goal of creating 53,000 housing units by 2030, according to the city’s first-quarter housing plan progress report released Wednesday.

That total of 21,000 units permitted or approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority since 2011 is “just a staggering number,” said Sheila Dillon, the city’s chief of housing and director of neighborhood development, at a roundtable discussion of the report.

In the first quarter, Boston permitted 1,187 total units and approved 825 total units, the report said. Apartment units made up the significant majority of housing permitted or aporoved in the first quarter, at 77.5 percent of the 1,187 units permitted and 79 percent of the 825 units approved, the report showed.

“We’d like to see more homeownership opportunities,” Dillon said.

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Samuels’ Spec Office Development In Fenway Lands First Tenant

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
May 21, 2015

Van Ness 2Boston-based Samuels & Assoc. has landed its first office tenant at the Van Ness, its 550,000-square-foot mixed-use project rising at 1325 Boylston St. in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood.

Cambridge-based health care risk manager CRICO leased 45,000 square feet in the 237,000-square-foot office building, which is being built on speculation. All 130 employees will relocate from its 101 Main St. office in Cambridge upon the building’s completion later this year, spokesman Missy Padoll said.

The office complex is part of a $250-million mixed-use project that includes 200,000 square feet of retail space and 172 luxury apartments with rents starting in the low $3,000s.

Samuels & Assoc. is seeking to recruit tech and creative companies to a new class A office cluster near Fenway Park by offering lower rents than East Cambridge and the Seaport.

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Mass. jobless rate falls to 7-year low

The Boston Globe | By Jack Newsham
May 21, 2015

The Massachusetts economy added jobs for the eighth consecutive month, dropping the state unemployment rate to its lowest level since the earliest days of the recession.

The state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday that unemployment in Massachusetts fell to 4.7 percent in April, from 4.8 percent in March. The US unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in April.

After a winter slowdown, hiring has rebounded strongly in the state. Massachusetts employers added 10,100 jobs last month, after adding 12,000 in March, the state labor office said.

Unemployment in Massachusetts hasn’t been this low since January 2008. The recession officially began in December 2007, when the state unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. The rate peaked at 8.8 percent in late 2009.

There are some signs that the low unemployment rate is putting pressure of Greater Boston employers to boost pay.

Total compensation for Boston workers rose 3.6 percent over the year ending in March, compared to 2.8 percent in the rest of the country, federal data show.

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Neighbors who sued to cut Cambridge tower’s height lose in court

The Boston Globe | By Casey Ross
May 20, 2015

Middlesex Courthouse 2A $250 million redevelopment plan for the former Middlesex County Courthouse in Cambridge cleared a major legal hurdle when a judge rejected claims by neighborhood opponents of the project.

Massachusetts Land Court Judge Robert Foster ruled late Tuesday that the developer, Leggat McCall Properties, has the right to preserve the building’s 280-foot height as part of a renovation that would add office space, retail stores, and residences.

A group of neighboring property owners, including architect Graham Gund, had argued that the state’s sale of the building to a private owner extinguished an exemption that allowed the building to be significantly taller than surrounding properties. They want to see the building demolished or substantially reduced in size.
Mark Bobrowski, a lawyer for the neighbors, said his clients intend to appeal the ruling.

He also said the neighbors are considering pursuing additional claims that the Cambridge Planning Board acted wrongfully in granting a special permit for the project.

Gund, whose office is located across the street from the former courthouse, could not be reached Wednesday.

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Jobless claims fall over past month to 15-year low

The Boston Globe | By Victoria Stilwell
May 21, 2015

WASHINGTON — The average number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits over the past four weeks dropped to a 15- year low, a sign the labor market continues to strengthen.

The four-week average for jobless claims decreased to 266,250 in the period ended May 16 from 271,750, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The figure corresponds to the week the government surveys employers to calculate the monthly payroll data. On a weekly basis, applications rose by 10,000 to 274,000.

Such a limited pace of dismissals indicates companies are anticipating a pickup in demand for their goods and services in the coming months. More job security that sparks bigger wage gains would help propel consumer confidence and make households feel more comfortable spending.

‘‘It’s indicative of a labor market that’s showing no signs of reversal even if the pace of job growth is going to slow,’’ said Eric Green, head of US economic research at TD Securities USA in New York. Whether it’s 260,000 or 274,000, ‘‘the theme here is claims are very low.’’

The median forecast of 51 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 270,000 initial applications for last week. Estimates ranged from 264,000 to 285,000. The prior week’s claims were unrevised at 264,000.

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Big plans and price tags for Union Square

Wicked Local Somerville | By Dan Atkinson
May 21, 2015

SOMERVILLE The latest designs for Union Square could bring more than $2 million in annual revenues to the city and add a 5-acre park in Boynton Yards, but are also contingent on acquiring more than $40 million in property.

And as city officials keep looking to future development, Union Square activists are continuing to push for a community benefits agreement to govern the area that is already under city control and slated for construction by master developer US2. “I know you all asked us not to talk about the CBA, but it’s all tied together,” Union United member Benny Wheat told city officials and contractors at a May 13 design meeting.

Union United is a coalition of area residents and activists groups pushing for citizen involvement in crafting a CBA. Officials at the May 13 meeting showed off the results of a three-day design charette in early March, where residents looked at initial plans for Union Square and the surrounding area created by city officials and city-hired consultants Principle Group and offered critiques and suggestions.

Officials took those suggestions to revise plans for the area. But the charette and the Somerville By Design process came under fire from Union United and other residents for not focusing on creating a CBA with US2, which will develop seven parcels in and around Union Square, including the parcels next to the incoming Green Line Station.

A CBA guarantees a developer will provide benefits like local jobs and affordable housing in exchange for being able to develop a property. Mayor Joe Curtatone has promised that US2 will not begin development until a CBA is in place, but it is unclear if residents will be able to help negotiate the CBA or if only city officials will negotiate with US2.

At the My 13 meeting, city economic development director Ed O’Donnell said he and other officials have been examining CBAs in other municipalities to figure out what would work best for Somerville.

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Megaprojects Help Boost April Construction Starts, Dodge Data & Analytics Says

Engineering News-Record | By Tom Ichniowski
May 21, 2015

Construction starts rose 10% in April from March levels, thanks in part to two megaprojects that got under way during the month, Dodge Data & Analytics reports.

Dodge D&A’s latest monthly look at new-construction volume, released on May 21, showed that April starts climbed to an annual rate of $698.7 billion, seasonally adjusted.

But excluding $1-billion-plus projects, April’s volume was down 3% from the previous month, the company noted. (ENR is part of Dodge D&A.)

The April results received a major boost from an $8.1-billion Sasol petrochemical plant in Louisiana and a $1.2-billion mixed-use high-rise at Hudson Yards in New York City, both of which began last month.

Dodge D&A also said that, for the first four months of 2015, total construction starts soared 24% year over year, to $208.2 billion, not seasonally adjusted.
When megaprojects of more than $1 billion are excluded, the January-April total still was a 10% gain from the year-earlier amount.

April’s starts brought the Dodge Index up to 148, compared with March’s 134. The 2000 figure equals 100 for the index. Last year’s index averaged 124.

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Walsh says Boston mostly on track to hit 2030 housing goals

The Boston Globe | By Dan Adams
May 20, 2015

Mayor Marty Walsh 3It’s early going, but a report released by Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Wednesday shows that, so far, Boston is on track to hit ambitious goals he set to build more affordable housing in the city.

Between January 2011 and March of this year, the city issued permits for more than 13,000 new apartments, condos, and homes, according to the report, surpassing the goal of 10,200 Walsh had set for that period.

But much of that new housing — 60 percent — has been out of reach for most middle-income households, roughly those with incomes below $100,000. And only 1,538 of the units permitted since 2011 were affordable for low-income households, a total that nonetheless exceeded the city’s modest goal of building 1,256 such units during that period.

“The housing plan is a response to a lot of the high-end housing being built in the Seaport and Downtown Crossing and other areas,” Walsh said at a briefing with reporters.

“For it being so early, the numbers are good. We have a ways to go to do better, but I think we’re doing OK where we are.”

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Sandwich chain Which Wich plans expansion in Greater Boston

Boston Business Journal | By Catherine Carlock
May 20, 2015

Which WichWhich Wich, a Dallas-based sandwich chain that opened a location in Somerville’s Assembly Row earlier this year, has plans to bring up to 40 more restaurants to Greater Boston and the western suburbs.

Which Wich was founded in Dallas in 2003 and has since grown to 352 stores, of which 349 are franchised, said Connie Alires, director of franchise development.

“When you get to that 350 store mark, you’re kind of playing with the big boys,” Alires said. “You’re really out there, and people are now seeking you out, and you’re kind of positioned differently as a brand.”

That new brand position gives Which Wich the security to expand even further, Alires said. Nationally, Which Wich is slated to open 100 locations annually from 2016 to 2020, in areas such as San Francisco and Sacramento, California, Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The chain will open a franchise in New Bedford by the end of the year, and is looking to open between 30 and 40 Massachusetts restaurants within the next three to five years.

The chain is known for its design-your-own-sandwich options, where customers use markers to note down styles, sizes and ingredients on pre-printed sandwich bag menus.

Most Which Wich franchises range in size from 1,400 square feet to 1,800 square feet. But the chain has tested a 350-square-foot prototype “Babywich” model in its home base of Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Which Wich would consider opening a small-footprint store in Boston’s financial district, where rents are much higher than out in the suburbs, Alires said.

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Walsh, Boston expand scope of gambling suit

The Boston Globe | By Andrea Estes
May 21, 2015

Mayor Marty Walsh 2Mayor Martin J. Walsh Wednesday filed a greatly expanded version of Boston’s lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, alleging the agency repeatedly violated the state’s casino law and its own rules to make sure Steve Wynn was granted a permit to build a $1.75 billion casino in Everett.

And after the license was awarded last September, the suit alleges, the commission bent the rules several more times to make sure Wynn kept it even though his company had not met key conditions and deadlines.

“The commission’s award of the license was the product of a corrupt process to favor Wynn” and the commissioners’ action “has irreparably tainted the gaming licensing process,” the suit says. The city wants a judge to revoke the casino license and bar the commissioners from taking further actions involving the sole eastern Massachusetts casino license.

Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the panel has not seen Boston’s new complaint, but adamantly defended the process that led to Wynn beating out a Mohegan Sun proposal in Revere for the lucrative license.

“The commission made each license award based solely on a meticulous, objective, and highly transparent evaluation of each gaming proposal,” Driscoll said. “We are confident that this complex licensing process was administered in a comprehensive and fair manner, although disappointing to interested parties seeking an alternative result.”

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Second Jackson Square Redevelopment Opens

Banker & Tradesman
May 20, 2015

Jackson CommonsDevelopers have finished work on Jackson Commons in Roxbury, making it the second building to be completed under the Jackson Square Redevelopment Master Plan.

Cambridge-based Prellwitz Chilinski Assoc. (PCA) worked closely with Urban Edge to design the renovation of Jackson Square’s 100 year-old Webb Manufacturing building, adding 37 mixed-income rental apartments as well as Urban Edge’s headquarters, a community learning center and retail space, all fully leased on opening day.

The Jackson Square Redevelopment Master Plan includes 360 units of housing and 80,000 square feet of retail, office space and community recreation facilities.

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Royal Philips moving 200-person research unit to Massachusetts

Boston Business Journal | By Jessica Bartlett
May 19, 2o15

MITRoyal Philips has signed a five-year deal with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a deal it is undertaking along with moving its North American research center from New York to Cambridge.

Philips (NYSE: PHG) will invest $25 million over five years in the research initiative, its largest to date in North America. Philips said it plans to hire dozens of people as well as relocate its existing research headquarters in Westchester, New York to the site. Researchers from other existing locations in Massachusetts may also come to the new location.

The company said it decided to move research to Cambridge before the deal closed with MIT, and said it was attracted to MIT because of the expertise contained within the organization.

“We visited various institutions not only in Cambridge but other cities before we made our choice,” said Henk van Houten, the global head of Philips Research. “We were surprised by the breadth and richness of the competency of MIT (and also) the vision of the staff and being extremely networked, they don’t only look around what’s happening in Boston … they have a global vision.”

MIT also has a desire to put their innovations into practice, van Houten said, an aspiration that resonated with the company.

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$4 billion garage makeover proposed for downtown Boston

Developers want to turn hulking garages downtown into elegant skyscrapers of homes, offices, stores — and some parking

The Boston Globe | By Casey Ross
May 20, 2015

Government Center Garage 2Call it downtown Boston’s $4 billion garage makeover.

That’s how much developers propose to spend redeveloping parking structures from North Station to Winthrop Square. They want to replace the hulking concrete eyesores with sleek new skyscrapers featuring ground-floor stores, hundreds of homes, office space, and new connections between city neighborhoods.

All of those plans would take years to complete. But the effort amounts to a privately financed rethinking of the urban renewal era, which spawned most of the garages, and gives Boston a new shot at changing the way parts of the city look and function.

“We have a chance to repair the scars left by the automobile era of the 1950s and ’60s,” said David Hacin, a principal at Hacin + Associates, an architecture firm. “We can move past that time period to build something denser, pedestrian friendly, and more attractive to people as a place to live and work.”

Urban Renewal led to the construction of parking garages in downtown areas across the country, where they often improved rundown blocks and commercial buildings. In Boston, the garages brought development at a time of economic distress, providing thousands of parking spaces to serve businesses and their suburban-based workforces.

“They brought cars into the city and rescued Boston from becoming an economic backwater,” said Mark Pasnik, a principal at the architecture and design firm Over, Under. “A lot of them are intelligently produced works of architecture, but they are wrong for today’s urbanism.”

The properties up for redevelopment include the Harbor Garage on Atlantic Avenue, the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage, the Government Center Garage, the Garden Garage at North Station, and the garage attached to the MBTA’s Back Bay Station on Clarendon Street.

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City to help fund Ashmont housing developments

Dorchester Reporter | Lauren Dezenski
May 18, 2015

Ashmont Tire 2The city will provide funding for Harmon Apartments and Ashmont TOD II, two significant proposed housing developments in Ashmont, Mayor Martin Walsh announced on Monday.

In all, Walsh announced $39 million allocated to affordable housing developments in the city. The funding is comprised of $27 million from the Department of Neighborhood Development and $11.7 million through Boston’s Neighborhood Housing Trust.

Also in Dorchester, Walsh has approved funding for Wayne at Bicknell, creating affordable 72 units, all of them affordable; Talbot Commons Phase I in Codman Square creating 40 affordable units; and the Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosure Inc.’s Greater Four Corners Pilot Project, which will create 10 affordable housing units.

Harmon Apartments is proposed by The Boston Home, and will be sited on the facility’s grounds on Dorchester Avenue. The development will create 39 units of mixed income rental housing for individuals and families with progressive neurological disabilities. Thirty three of those units will be affordable, according to the city.

Harmon Apartments has also emerged as a contentious development along Dorchester Avenue as The Boston Home hopes to create affordable housing for residents suffering from multiple sclerosis. Neighbors are concerned about the apartments’ proposed low-income status and the impact on traffic in the already congested area south of Ashmont Station.

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Watertown could soon see development spike

As development spreads out from Cambridge, residential, shopping and office projects could transform the area

The Boston Globe | By Dan Adams
May 20, 2015

LinxCambridge’s bustling Kendall Square, with its proximity to world-class universities, access to public transit, housing, and nightlife, is often seen as the gold standard for Boston-area companies seeking office space.

But with Kendall and other areas in the urban core increasingly crowded and pricey, commercial developers are sniffing out underdeveloped neighborhoods within reach of Boston and Cambridge where they can catch some of the overflow.

The Boston developer Boylston Properties thinks it has a winner in East Watertown. The company has invested heavily in several projects along Arsenal Street, and its latest proposal, a $60 million office building dubbed Linx, has a striking contemporary look that evokes the same hip vibe as its Cambridge neighbors.

“They’re not making more dirt in Boston and Cambridge,” said William McQuillan, the firm’s principal. “You go up the Charles River and Watertown is the next piece of land you reach, whether you’re a pilgrim or a real estate developer. It’s in the process of becoming a fantastic market.”

The Linx proposal is for a wholesale transformation of an unremarkable industrial building currently occupied by Verizon, on a site set back across the street from the Arsenal mall complex. The design, by John Sullivan of Spagnolo Gisness & Associates of Boston, calls for splitting the boxy building in two, replacing concrete walls with glass, adding depth to the facade with a mix of materials, and creating a light-filled atrium lobby with a cafe and lounge.

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