By: Tim Logan
For generations, Anthony’s Pier 4 on the South Boston waterfront was a destination for special occasions.
The famed restaurant, known for its popovers, lobster newburg, and a wall of famous diners’ pictures, closed five years ago and was later razed to make way for redevelopment. Now, the company behind that project hopes the site will once again become a place where people gather.
Development firm Tishman Speyer took the wraps off a new public park at the water’s end of Pier 4 earlier this fall. Past a glass-wrapped office tower and a fancy condo building, an acre of grass, plaza, and boardwalk reaches out over the harbor’s edge.
It’s the latest in a series of waterfront parks that have opened in the Seaport District in recent years as major development has rolled through the neighborhood. And it again raises the question of how to make these truly public spaces, not just front yards for the residents of the expensive condominiums next door.
“It’s a pier that has never been open before,” said Jessica Hughes, managing director of Tishman’s Boston office, “unless you were eating popovers at Anthony’s.”
When Tishman bought the pier from another developer in 2014, a year after Anthony’s was closed, and began pushing ahead with plans to build on it, the company knew that state environmental law — known as Chapter 91 — would require devoting half of the site to publicly accessible open space. That’s true for nearly all waterfront development in Boston, part of an effort to improve public access to the harbor. But so far, the result has been a mishmash of parks, piers, and plazas that critics say feel unwelcoming, and often add up to less than the sum of their parts.
“That’s the larger problem down there,” said Deanna Moran, director of environmental planning at the Conservation Law Foundation, which has challenged several waterfront projects and zoning plans over public access. “Developers see Chapter 91 as an obligation, instead of an opportunity. They just fit it to meet their predeveloped plan.”
But at Pier 4, Hughes said, Tishman is attempting to do better.
The company reshaped the two buildings that had been approved for the site, making the street-level open space flow more smoothly from the Institute of Contemporary Art next door. They rebuilt the pier’s sea wall and raised the site by two feet to better withstand storms and rising seas. And it hired landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand to design the park with an eye to drawing people from Seaport Boulevard and Northern Avenue, several blocks off the harbor.
The result is a stretch of boardwalk along the edges of the fingerlike pier, and a swoop of grass on the harbor side. There are stretches that extend out over the water, and down stairs to the harbor itself. At high tide, the bottom steps are submerged.
“This is one of the few places in the city where you can actually dip your toes in the water,” Hughes said.
On a cloudy, cold morning last week, the park was mostly empty. The dull roar of planes taking off at Logan Airport was punctuated by occasional car horns from Seaport Boulevard and the sound of water lapping against the pier.
The intention was to create a space apart from the bustle of the city, said Eric Kramer, a Reed Hilderbrand principal who helped design the project, and also to make people feel welcome. There are benches and mounted binoculars — at a child’s height — for taking in the views. And unlike some nearby piers, there are no signs stipulating what you can’t do there — like skateboard, or let your dog on the grass.
“They’ve done a really nice job of drawing you out there in terms of design and landscaping,” said Alice Brown, director of planning at Boston Harbor Now, which advocates for waterfront access. “And they put enough space out there that says, yeah, it’s worth it to come all the way to the end. That’s something developers of long piers have struggled with.”
Still, Moran said, there is room for improvement. There are no signs indicating that this is, in fact, a public park and part of the Harborwalk, a series of public paths and boardwalks ringing the harbor. The benches — some made of reclaimed hunks of sea wall — are so subtle that a passerby might not even recognize them as a place to sit. And there’s little actual grass, she noted, just a modest patch that slopes at a gentle angle.
“Kids are not going to want to play at this park. You’re not going to get families,” she said. “It attracts a certain kind of person, which is what the Seaport has gotten a bad name for.”
Hughes believes otherwise. Even during the brief period of pleasant weather this fall, the park drew a wide range of visitors, she said, including families from nearby buildings. The condo building’s first retail tenant — the farm-to-table Woods Hill restaurant — opened before Thanksgiving, and it’s aiming to fill ground-floor retail space with tenants that will appeal to a mix of visitors, giving people more reasons to venture beyond the Seaport District’s main thoroughfares and out to the water’s edge.
“I think people will use the heck out of this park,” Hughes said. “We want them to make a day of it here.”
Kind of like they did at Anthony’s in the old days.
On October 30th, the Federal Reserve approved a quarter point interest rate cut from 2% to 1.75% in order “sustain market expansion”, as promised by the Federal Open Market Committee in June. Despite the fallout from the U.S. – China trade war and the impending implications from Brexit, the U.S. economy and housing market continues to maintain steady growth, and this rate cut should help this growth continue through Q4 of 2019. Now is a better time than ever to purchase a new home or refinance at a lower rate.
Effective Federal Funds Rate, 2019
The Fed has had internal disagreements as to whether or not these cuts should continue, as this was the third rate cut this year. While President Trump has publicly stated that the Fed should keep cutting rates in an effort to stimulate economic expansion, multiple regional presidents of the Fed have maintained that the rate shouldn’t move down any further, and that it even should have been held constant at the prior level. It will be interesting to see how these rate cuts impact the economy in the long run: will this growth instrument prevent another recession or might it lead to inflation?
138 New Luxury Condominium Residences with Unparalleled Views and Market Leading Amenities in Boston’s South End
Oct. 2, 2019
The Davis Companies (TDC) announced the selection of Advisors Living as the exclusive sales and marketing team for 100 Shawmut – the newest luxury development in Boston’s South End.
100 Shawmut will include 138 new luxury condominium residences, complimented by breathtaking views, private outdoor spaces, a two level rooftop sky lounge with gas grills and fire tables, a full service 24-hour concierge, an exclusive fitness center, a club room with a caterer’s kitchen, a resident lounge, billiards room, library, children playroom, dog-wash station, bicycle storage, and 3-levels of enclosed, secure parking.
“The Davis Companies has a long track record of doing what’s right for Boston,” said Jonathan Davis, Founder and CEO of The Davis Companies. He continued, “We are combining the best of the South End’s historic charm with the brilliance of contemporary architecture, ultimately delivering a diverse mix of living options for a wide range of Bostonians.”
Advisors Living, a division of Boston Realty Advisors, is a recognized market leader in the planning, design, marketing and sales of new luxury residential development throughout Boston. In addition to Advisors Living, The Davis Companies assembled a star-studded cast to design and construct the full-service luxury building.
The Architectural Team – Design Architect
EMBARC Studio – Interior Design
Copley Wolff Design Group – Landscape Architect
Suffolk Construction – General Contractor
Jason S. Weissman, Founder and CEO of Boston Realty Advisors said, “Advisors Living has become a household name for luxury living throughout Boston. I’m confident in their ability to market this unique opportunity in the South End and deliver top sales results at 100 Shawmut.”
The adaptive reuse and new construction redevelopment will transform an existing, early 20th century six-story industrial building and the site that surrounds it into a 138 unit, 13-story architectural marvel. The project design will merge classic features from the existing prewar building together with sleek, modern accents, preserving the character of the 1920’s façade on the lower floors, while adding seven stories of unitized glass curtainwall.
As the eye-catching exterior powerfully lures people in, the interior will welcome its residents with high ceilings and a modern feel – utilizing a mixture of white oak and textural stone that conveys a warm and gracious experience. The thoughtfully designed luxury condominium residences are sized to offer the ideal home for any family, offering studios, one, two, three and four-bedroom homes.
The overall development sits on 1.9 acres and will ultimately form a beautiful landscaped internal courtyard and an East/West public pathway for residents of the South End to access the Washington Street Corridor.
The South End is an incredibly versatile neighborhood that boasts a thriving restaurant and gastropub scene and a broad array of specialty shops and is recognized as a world-renowned art and design district. 100 Shawmut is ideally situated to leverage the best of the South End and is conveniently located minutes from the Back Bay, Seaport, Downtown, SoWa and South Boston.
Janice Dumont, CEO of Advisors Living said, “The definition of modern luxury has been elevated. 100 Shawmut will stand apart in the South End community, offering luxurious high rise living with a comprehensive amenity program. We are privileged to be the exclusive brokerage firm for this exceptional property.”
Climbing 150 feet, in one of the most sought after Boston neighborhoods, 100 Shawmut is being marketed as, “One Address. Infinite Possibilities.” The Davis Companies broke ground on 100 Shawmut in February 2019 and is scheduled to deliver year end 2020. The exclusive Advisors Living team consists of Janice Dumont, Colleen Daniels, Creign Carr and Matt Gilmartin. For more information and to schedule an appointment, please visit 100shawmut.com.
Davis Companies has tapped Advisors Living for the sales and marketing assignment of 100 Shawmut, a 138-unit luxury condominium project in Boston’s South End.
The project will feature views of the Boston skyline, private outdoor spaces, a two-level rooftop sky lounge with gas grills, a full service 24-hour concierge, fitness center, club room, resident lounge, billiards room, library, children playroom, dog-wash station, bicycle storage and three-levels of secure parking.
The adaptive reuse and new construction redevelopment will see an early 20th century six-story industrial building redeveloped into a 138 unit, 13-story property. The design will merge features from the existing prewar building together with sleek, modern accents.
“100 Shawmut will stand apart in the South End community, offering luxurious high rise living with a comprehensive amenity program,” said Janice Dumont, CEO of Advisors Living.
U.S. consumer confidence only slightly decreased from July to August despite trade tensions with China. Experts estimated that the market could see a large dip in August, but instead, this dip has been significantly smaller than predicted, signaling an optimistic general economic outlook. While other part of the economy have shown some weakness, the housing and labor market have remained strong, and now, bullish investors are hoping for resolution with China and a potential fall rally.
Expectations are still that the Fed will lower interest rates again in September due to trade tensions and slowing global growth, according to Reuters.com. As long as the tariff tension with China continues, the Fed will need to use monetary policy tools, such as rate cuts, to keep the economy strong. If the tension escalates and China retaliates to the U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports by taxing incoming U.S. goods, the high level of consumer confidence that we are seeing now will start to fall at a faster pace. But, on Monday, President Trump and Xi Jinping “called for calm” and Trump predicted that a deal would soon be in place.
These continuous rate cuts bode well for the future of the housing market. Nationally, home prices increased by 1.0% in the second quarter, and the increase in housing demand can directly be attributed to the favorable mortgage conditions brought about by the recent rate cuts. As long as these rate cuts increase the demand for real estate purchases, prices should hold strong entering the fall.
In July 2019, U.S. homes sales grew by 2.5% year over year due in large part to a decrease in interest rates. Analysts believe that this rate was lowered to bolster the economy after markets shifted when tariffs on Chinese goods was announced by President Trump. This bodes well for the outlook of the U.S. housing market, as this decrease from 3.95% to 3.90% interest will give buyers more money to spend on homes going into the fall season.