Developers are showing new interest in Mass. Pike air rights project


The Boston Globe | By Tim Logan
October 24, 2016

pike-airA once controversial but now dormant development over the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston may be stirring again.

At least two major developers are exploring the idea of reviving Columbus Center, the 10-acre megaproject from the 2000s to cover the highway between the Back Bay and the South End. These developers have separately approached the Massachusetts Department of Transportation about Columbus Center, a state official said Monday.

It’s not clear who, exactly, is in the mix. A MassDOT spokeswoman said the agency has had “informal conversations with a couple of developers” about reopening the project, but would not identify the developers.

However, Boston-based Trinity Financial confirmed it has hired a consultant to broach the topic with residents of the area.

The interest level is very preliminary, so it’s unclear whether any of the developers would pursue something on the scale of the original Columbus Center proposal, which included blocks of buildings and a 35-story tower built on decks over the turnpike and several adjacent lots east of Clarendon Street.

Developer WinnCompanies and its main financier pulled the plug on the $800 million project in 2010 after it became economically infeasible.

MassDOT, which controls the sites, hasn’t decided whether to revive the project, which would allow it to solicit proposals from developers. The original plan called for building on four separate parcels that ran from Clarendon to Arlington streets. Any approvals are months, if not years, away.

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