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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.


Newton developer hopes to break ground on Austin Street next spring

Wicked Local Newton | By Johnathan Dame
May 25, 2016

NEWTON- A developer is still optimistic construction of a 68-unit mixed-use apartment building atop the Austin Street municipal parking lot can begin next spring as scheduled – even as two lawsuits seeking to block the project remain pending in state courts.

The separate lawsuits allege the city violated state and local laws during the multi-year process that culminated in the City Council green-lighting the development this past December, in a 17-6 vote.

Abutters are appealing the project’s special permit in one of the lawsuits, filed in Superior Court shortly after the council vote.

They allege 13 violations, including insufficient public hearings notices, unlawful restrictions on business uses, and excessive parking waivers. In the other lawsuit, a dozen residents accused the city of violating state procurement and conflict of interest laws, in addition to the city ordinances.

In January, a Superior Court judge dismissed that suit – which the residents had filed in October – on grounds the plaintiffs had no standing to sue. But the group is now appealing to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

Attorney Guieve Mirfendereski is representing the residents in both cases. Scott Oran, principal of the development entity Austin Street Partners, a defendant in the special permit appeal case, said his work was mostly on hold pending resolution of that lawsuit. “We’re awaiting a resolution of the lawsuit, which we think is baseless and frivolous,” Oran said. “But again, if it’s resolved this summer, there wouldn’t be any delay.”

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BRA session set to update community on Indigo Block bid

Dorchester Reporter | By Jennifer Smith
May 26, 2016


Community members will have another chance to comment on the Indigo Block redevelopment project next Wednesday when the Boston Redevelopment Authority will be presenting an update on the long-vacant 2.75-acre site in Uphams Corner.

Indigo Block, so named for its proximity to the Uphams Corner stop on the Fairmount Line, is a planned mixed-use development at 65 East Cottage St. As presented to the Boston Civic Design Commission in March, the project includes 80 residential apartments, 4 market-rate, two-family homes for homeownership, and a building with about 20,000 square feet of light industrial-commercial space.

A public meeting will be held on Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Mayor’s Gallery Room at the Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road.

The non-profit Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corp. was tapped in 2015 to lead a team in rehabbing the site of the former Maxwell Box Company. The property, which was seized by the city in 2011 for its owner’s failure to pay back taxes, sits between swaths of commercial, residential, and community use land.

The design has not changed significantly since the March presentation, although BRA and design commission staff have “urged the development team to make a more permeable campus with regard to the project’s proximity to the adjacent commuter rail station,” according to BRA spokesperson Gina Physic.

“We’ve continued to refine our plans, but the overall program was very consistent, and we feel like there’s been great feedback to tweak things,” said Andy Waxman, director of real estate at Dorchester Bay EDC. Most of the adjustment has been in making the exterior colors more coherent and refining landscaping, he said.

Indigo Block is planned to include housing for four income levels, including a combination of market-rate and affordable-housing units.

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Minuteman High School receives MSBA extension for building project

Wicked Local Concord
May 27, 2016


According to an announcement from the school, the Massachusetts School Building Authority voted May 25 to grant the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District more time to build local support for construction of a new high school designed for 628 students.

The extension lasts until Nov. 30. The Massachusetts School Building Authority agreed March 15 to pay for 44.75 percent of the eligible cost in the $144.9 million project, provided Minuteman leaders could line up all 16 member towns in the district to support their share of the project costs by May 27.

Although six towns voted this year to leave the district, since they don’t actually leave until July 2017, all 16 had to vote to not reject their portions of the funding for the project to go forward.

However, Belmont Town Meeting rejected the town’s portion of the project funding May 4.

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New F.W. Webb plan well received by city officials

Details are sparse, but city leaders support new vision

The Salem News | By Dustin Luca
May 27, 2016

SALEM — It could still be a couple weeks before residents get eyes on the next iteration of F.W. Webb’s proposal on Bridge Street, but the project has some critical support before the gate even opens up.

Mayor Kim Driscoll and city councilors Heather Famico and Josh Turiel met this week with representatives from F.W. Webb to discuss a new way for the company to expand its operations on Bridge Street.

And on Thursday, the mayor and both councilors announced their support for the revised plan, giving the project a better chance of passage than the old one. Famico, who represents Ward 2 (where Webb is located), was one of four councilors who voted against the previous plan.
Right now, the company is in a five-story brick building. They proposed early last year to build a wider, but shorter, building next door at 297-305 Bridge St., on what is now city-owned land. Hearings on that project began in January and came to a tumultuous end last month when a necessary zoning change failed to win City Council approval.

The outcome had some fallout. In a follow-up letter to city leaders, the company’s chief operating officer Robert Mucciarone said a new proposal was coming together, but it would be floated to city officials first to determine their appetite for it.

If they didn’t get a thumbs up, Webb would most likely leave the city.

In Thursday’s announcement, Driscoll said the new proposal has enough support to give the company “a path forward for the project.”

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In Government Center, a nifty development trick

The Boston Globe | By Tim Logan
May 27, 2016

gov c

How do you turn a hulking concrete garage above one of downtown’s busiest streets into a glittering garden of towers without ever closing the garage?

We’re about to find out.

The $1.5 billion re-do of the Government Center Garage into one of the biggest developments in downtown Boston hinges on a pretty nifty trick: turning the garage itself from an unloved albatross into the foundation of the entire project.

“It’s not as if you can just swing a wrecking ball at this thing,” said Tom O’Brien, managing director of the development firm HYM Investment Group, which is turning the huge garage into the base of two new skyscrapers, a third mid-rise apartment building, and a plaza of low-rise buildings along the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Instead, HYM will carefully take down parts of the garage, while remaking other sections so it can continue to provide parking during and after construction. In some places whole sections of the garage will be demolished, while elsewhere HYM will slice off portions to make way for several of the buildings; the remainder of the garage will serve as a platform that unifies the complex.

“Every piece of the garage has been mapped out. There’s a plan for exactly when and how we’ll take down or reuse each one,” O’Brien said.

The work has already begun. Inside, behind walls of green construction netting and orange barricades, workers are realigning electrical systems, redesigning traffic flow, and building a new exit ramp out to tiny Bowker Street, to replace the circular ramp along New Chardon Street.

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Massive office complex could blossom at Flower Exchange site

The Boston Globe | By Tim Logan
May 26, 2016

The new owner for the sprawling Flower Exchange property in the South End unveiled themselves Thursday.

The Abbey Group, which developed the Fenway’s Landmark Center and the old Lafayette Place mall in Downtown Crossing, told a Boston city council hearing that it has the site under agreement.

While plans are still being finalized, Abbey principal David Epstein said his firm envisions a “dynamic corporate campus” to rival those in Kendall Square in Cambridge, that could employ 5,000 to 10,000 people.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to create a really accessible development, a development that provides a lot of jobs,” Epstein said. “We’d like to get companies coming over from Kendall.”

The site would also include public space, parking and perhaps some housing, Epstein said.

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Sixth Starbucks’ Swoops Down On Seaport

Banker & Tradesman
May 25, 2016

America may run on Dunkin’ but Boston’s Seaport District increasingly runs on Starbucks.

The Seattle coffee giant plans to open its sixth cafe in the neighborhood this summer at 101 Seaport, a 17-story office building that is anchored by the regional headquarters of PwC. The café is scheduled to open this summer, according to a Starbucks spokeswoman.

In addition to Starbucks’ core menu, this store will feature the chain’s Reserve coffees that are roasted and blended at the company’s flagship Roastery in Seattle.

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Riverside zoning proposal voted down; concerns spark Cambridge housing crisis talk

Wicked Local Cambridge | By Natalie Handy
May 25, 2016

CAMBRIDGE- A “drastic” proposal to change zoning requirements in Riverside was met with concerns from current homeowners, sparking a bigger discussion of the housing crisis in Cambridge.

The proposal, discussed at the May 24 Planning Board meeting, asked that current zoning designation from parcels within the Putnam Avenue to Franklin Street and River Street boundaries change from C-1 to C zoning. Submitted by a number of Riverside residents, the proposal aimed to discourage “inappropriate development” in the neighborhood, encourage good building design, and ensure changes within the neighborhood are compatible with scale and character of the current dwellings.

According to its proponents, the proposal would preserve residential core open space and core neighborhood character, which is considered to be one- and two-family homes.

It would reduce the maximum building parameters, allowing developers to build to the maximum allowed parameters with confidence. However, the re-zoning would not allow current homeowners to substantially expand their homes, and would result in a dwelling loss of 2 percent of units.

According to a study by the Community Development Department (CDD), with the proposal, 80 percent of current parcels would not conform to the maximum allowed floor area ratio (FAR).

While presenters of the proposal referred to it as “modest in scope,” others disagreed. “This exclusionary zoning proposal being put forth by residents of Riverside will certainly benefit me and other homeowners in Cambridge –it will raise my property values by limiting future development. But it will also exacerbate the acute housing crisis currently experienced in Cambridge and the greater Boston area,” said Garrett Quinn, Cambridge resident and single-family homeowner.

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SOMERVILLE HIGH SCHOOL: New building could reach $275M

Wicked Local Somerville | By Danielle McLean
May 24, 2016

somervilel highSOMERVILLE- Early estimates say the cost to rebuild and renovate Somerville High School could reach $275 million, making it the most expensive school building project in state history.

And city officials say a debt exclusion vote that would raise taxes more than the state’s allowable limit is needed to pay for it.

On Monday, the city’s High School Building Committee voted unanimously to submit a plan to the state that would rebuild Somerville High around the school’s existing field house and war memorial building, while preserving its historic 1895 wing for future city uses.

The project is projected to cost between $250 and $275 million, with the city expected to cover $160 to $230 million of the total and the state’s School Building Authority (MSBA) reimbursing the rest, according to Mayoral Spokesman Jackie Rossetti.

While estimates could change later on in the process, the early projected price tag exceeds the cost of Newton North High School, which cost $197.5 million when it opened in 2010.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said in a statement the project’s cost is higher than anticipated but necessary. “I am confident that the preferred option selected by the [School Building Committee] would best meet the goals of the Education Plan that is essential to any future for our high school, and for the needs of our students in a 21st century learning environment,”Curtatone said. “To simply bring the current high school up to code — improvements to the roof, heating and cooling systems, accessibility, and exterior envelope — would require a minimum of $130 million and would not come close to meeting our educational needs.”

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Developer buys Lafayette lot at auction

Problems at site now fully become Burr’s

The Salem News | By Dustin Luca

SALEM — A piece of land subject to already-approved redevelopment near Salem State University was sold at auction on Wednesday, but that ultimately didn’t change the project’s fate.

Local developer Bob Burr locked up 335 Lafayette St., the corner of a site on which he plans to build a three-story retail and office building.

Ultimately, Burr bought the property for $727,000. A single-family home in Lynn was also part of the purchase. Four parties, including local attorney Scott Grover on behalf of Burr, were registered to bid.

The Lafayette Street property currently includes a now closed convenience store, residences and more. The overall site subject to redevelopment also ties in storefronts running down to 331 Lafayette St., including local eatery favorite Fran & Diane’s Kitchen and the Jade House Chinese restaurant.

In the days leading up to the auction, Grover said his client was in contact with the bank, and there was no concern about the auction interfering with their plans.

It would appear that the bank’s handling of the auction precluded others from bidding on the property, according to Grover.

Bidding on the site started at $723,417.94 through a bid put down by a representative of the bank foreclosing upon the property.

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LStar shines light on proposed solar farm in Weymouth

Wicked Local Weymouth | By Ed Baker
May 21, 2016

WEYMOUTH- A landfill at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station that was once thought to be unusable could accommodate a proposed solar energy farm if Weymouth town councilors approve a zoning change.

LStar Management is seeking the zoning change to accommodate 38 ground mounted solar panels atop the landfill at SouthField, which was capped in September 2011.

LStar attorney Ryan Blackmon said solar panels atop the 5.78 acre landfill site could provide enough electricity to 140 homes in SouthField and for future commercial development at the site. “It would avoid emissions of 93,000 gallons of gas,” Blackmon said during a public hearing Monday.

LStar’s development plan allows for more than 3 million square-feet of commercial amenities at SouthField under an amendment to the code of zoning ordinances that was approved by town council in November.

The zoning change allows LStar to potentially create a neighborhood sub-district with an overlay district within a planned town center, where a variety of shops, restaurants, bars, a hockey rink and a stadium that could seat up to 10,000 people would be located.

Blackmon said the solar panels would also provide enough energy for LStar to sell energy to Weymouth, which was designated a “Green Community,” by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in December.

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Avalon II complex approved with conditions at Hingham Shipyard

Patriot Ledger | By Carol Britton Meyer
May 25, 2016

HINGHAM- The 190-unit Avalon Hingham Shipyard II development proposed for the 3.8-acre site of the former Building 19 corporate headquarters and showroom off Rte. 3A has been approved with conditions.?

Through the zoning board of appeals review process, the developer of this Chapter 40B project decreased the number of rental units from the originally proposed 250, provided an architectural redesign of the building, and decreased the building size and height in response to neighborhood concerns.?

Chapter 40B is a state statute that enables local zoning boards of appeal to approve housing developments under flexible rules that allow less oversight than is normally accorded to town review boards if between 20 and 25 percent of the units are affordable.?

In this case, 48 of the units will be in that category. All of the units will be included in the town’s affordable housing inventory because rental units are in such short supply.?Conditions relate to pre-construction, utilities, landscaping, stormwater, signage, the sewer system, traffic and intersection improvements, pedestrian access, and other issues.?Also required is a “welcome packet” for new residents detailing available public transportation services, bike and walking alternatives, and other commuter options.?

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Developer moving on Flynn Marine Park project

Boston Herald | By Donna Goodison
May 26, 2016

parcel q1Skanska USA Commercial Development is moving ahead with plans for an approximately 230,000-square-foot office building in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park on the South Boston waterfront.

Skanska’s project, which would include first-floor retail, is slated for an approximately 367,999-square-foot parcel at Drydock Avenue and Harbor Street, according to a letter of intent filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

“Skanska is highly invested in developing the Seaport District and unlocking development opportunities to add value to the area,” Charley Leatherbee, executive vice president of Skanska USA Commercial Development, said in a statement.

A Skanska spokeswoman said it was premature to comment further on the project.

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Mass. lawmakers give public records overhaul unanimous approval

The Boston Globe | By Joshua Miller
May 25, 2016

With unanimity and unusual swiftness, lawmakers Wednesday sent a bill strengthening Massachusetts’ feeble public records law to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature. His top spokeswoman did not say whether he would sign it, but her statement telegraphed support.

“Governor Baker looks forward to reviewing the final bill,” press secretary Elizabeth Guyton said, but he “is pleased that it contains many of the public records reforms the administration introduced last year for the executive branch to make state government more transparent.”

And State House insiders see the robust bipartisan vote in favor of the legislation — a compromise between the Senate and the House — as forcing the Republican governor’s hand, despite worries from cities and towns that the bill would burden them with extra costs.

The House voted Wednesday for the compromise 154-0, and the Senate voted 40-0.

Baker can sign the bill into law, veto it, send it back to lawmakers with recommended changes, or do nothing. He must act by June 4, legislative aides said, or it becomes law.

The legislation, unveiled Monday, would allow judges to force the state, cities, and towns to pay lawyers’ fees if a court found they inappropriately withheld public records. That, advocates say, will pressure government officials to fulfill public records requests by creating financial consequences for not complying with the law.

The bill would limit the sometimes hefty fees that municipalities and the state charge for gathering and providing public information, such as government e-mails and payroll records. It would also require public-records point people at state agencies and municipalities and mandate that records be delivered to requestors digitally when available in that form.

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Beverly Catholic school, convent may be sold

Beverly Catholic Collaborative exploring options with merger of two schools

The Salem News | By Arianna MacNeill
May 24, 2016

BEVERLY — With the city’s two Catholic schools set to merge under one roof this fall, the St. Mary Star of the Sea school and convent may be sold — and already, developers are expressing interest in it, for everything from housing to a hotel.

St. Mary’s is merging with St. John the Evangelist School this fall to form the new Saints Academy, on the St. John’s campus on New Balch Street. Since the merger was announced last September, a question facing the Beverly Catholic Collaborative has been what to do now with the extra school and convent on Chapman Street.

The Rev. Mark Mahoney is working with the St. Mary’s Parish Finance Council, which “has decided that it would be prudent to seek permission from the Archdiocese to explore the sale of the school and convent buildings,” according to a letter from the council to parishioners dated May 12. Proceeds from any sale would be reinvested to contribute to parish needs and goals.

“This is just the first step,” said Ellen Hutchinson, a member of the finance council. “We’re exploring what our space needs are for our parish, and everything is on the table.”

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