Boston Real Estate Blog

John Ford Realty
137 Charles Street, Boston
151 Tremont Street

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Photos from a much larger city (London)

Random photos from our trip abroad. Four examples of crazy city life.

First: here’s a quote from the wall of a bar we were in (called The Green Carnation). It’s from Oscar Wilde, it says, “Anyone who lives within their means suffer from a lack of imagination.”

oscar wilde

Here’s the most fascinating thing we saw on the trip. There are a lot (A LOT) of people in London. I have never seen so many people in one place, not even in Times Square. And, many of these people are drunk on Friday and Saturday nights. So, city officials have come up with a clever idea – public urinals. City workers go around on Friday and Saturday afternoons and put these up all over the place. At night, guys (sorry girls!) can simply walk up (sorry people in wheelchairs), unzip, and let nature take its course. I was horrified. (Until around 11:45 PM on Saturday night …)

london urinal

I love this. It was an advertisement for a mortgage loan company. At the bottom there is a disclaimer. “Warning: Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayment on your mortgage.” Expect to see these soon in the US.

warning mortgage london

Here’s the best idea EVER! You park your car, then you text your credit card information to the city to pay for the parking meter.

london parking by text

Apocalypse, now

From a reader.

Really, you gotta take a look.

I’m in Texas on business and picked up the local real estate magazine last night at dinner. I discovered a builder in Fort Worth that specializes in building what look like castles to me. “Fort Worth Castles.”

It’s 12,000 sq. feet in size and sold recently for about $3 million. For this price the buyer gets everything except a lot of land (1/3 acres only). In particular, check out the master closet.

Farewell, Dainty Dot building

Not much to add to this.

Developer agrees to trim tower’s size – By Thomas C Palmer, Jr., The Boston Globe

A compromise reached between City Hall and developers of a planned 299-foot-tall residential tower in Chinatown will reduce the height by 34 feet, but means elimination of the revered Dainty Dot building on the site …

… The compromise, described last night to the Boston Design Review Commission, includes reducing the building’s height to 265 feet, or about 4 1/2 floors, paring the number of residential condominiums from 180 to 147, and adding a new park on Oxford Street.

Forty-eight units of “affordable housing” will be built, off-site, as part of the agreement.

I won’t miss it. They were only going to save the exterior, anyway, and I think the majority of projects that do this sort of thing end up looking tragic, depressing, and flat out ugly. Russia Wharf, Penny Savings, NYC’s Hearst building (well, there it’s just a matter of the new building looking heinous – I know I’m in the minority on that one …).

Get the shovels in the ground and let’s put some construction guys to work!

Dainty Dot building may be replaced with residential housing, in Chinatown

A developer wants to build a 26-story condo building at the corners of Essex Street and the Surface Road, where Chinatown meets the financial district.

Here, density may work: On Chinatown site’s future, a clash over priorities– By Sam Allis, The Boston Globe

Nothing captures the conflicts in Chinatown today better than the saga of the old Dainty Dot Hosiery building at 120 Kingston St.

It’s the one that, depending on perspective, is either on the edge of Chinatown or the front of the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The one whose application for historic landmark status was rejected last year by the Boston Landmarks Commission. The one preservationists crave to keep.

The one that Israeli developer Ori Ron plans to replace with a high-end condo maybe 26 stories high. The one that, Ron promises, will lead to 48 units of affordable housing he will pay for nearby.

I don’t think there’s anything worth saving in this building. While it may look “pretty” to some, I’m not sure it’s distinct enough to warrant giving it any sort of historic designation. I mean, you can’t just can’t go around ruling building after building off limits, without reason.

The height is another issue, altogether. It comes down to whether or not you think this building should be required to comply with zoning regulations in that neighborhood. Is it a “Chinatown” building or a financial district building.

In my opinion, it’s a financial district building, and therefore fits in well with other towers in that area. Having residential housing on the Greenway adds to the flavor of the neighborhood.

That the developer has promised “affordable” housing above and beyond what is required by law, is just icing on the cake.

** The Globe columnist, Sam Allis, makes a not-so-subtle dig at City Councilor Sam Yoon, who has not taken a position on whether or not the Dainty Dot building should be replaced.

Yoon states the obvious here, yet refuses to take a stand on the Dainty Dot. “I’m not drafting a letter of support or opposition,” he says. (I find this typical of him. Sam: show me some fortitude. Take a position. Either way, you’ll get scars, but we’re defined by our scars. That’s politics.)

Or, said another way, “Sam, grow a pair.”

Suffolk University move to Lindemann Health Center proposed

lindemann health centerInteresting idea being floated by a private developer (not sure how he benefits from this?).

Source: Suffolk sell-off eyed – By Scott Van Voorhis, The Boston Herald

As Suffolk University looks to build a new downtown campus away from its long-time Beacon Hill home, some are urging the school to consider selling off its valuable real estate holdings in the historic neighorhood.

Hub developer John Ryan is lobbying the university to cash in on its valuable Beacon Hill properties and build a new campus core near Government Center.

Ryan, who put together the land on which the Federal Reserve tower and part of the Hancock complex was built, argues Suffolk could make a fortune – as much as $150 million – selling off its Beacon Hill real estate.

I’m not sure if he’s suggesting that Suffolk move into the Lindemann complex or simply replacing it (yeah, that might not go over so well with fans of Mr Rudolph …)

This would certainly give some vibrancy to that part of Cambridge Street, but the university is spread out, pretty far. Not sure if it could find enough real estate.

BRA looking for members of Copley Tower Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC)

The Simon Group, the property developer behind Copley Place, has proposed a residential tower to rise above and beside the Neiman-Marcus department store, at the corner of Dartmouth and Stuart streets.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) is organizing a group of local citizens to advise the city’s planning department on if and what should be built.

If you are interested in learning more and possibly nominating yourself or someone you know, I’ve attached a letter outlining the (volunteer) positions as well as an application.

Deadline is April 21, 2008.

Copley Tower proposal

Citien Advisory Committee nomination form

Seaport Square plans released; Filene’s building tower, too

John Hynes and Gale International have released preliminary designs of their massive Seaport Square project, planned for the South Boston Waterfront (ha ha!). (There are more renderings in the .pdf.)

Also, they have created several renderings of what Washington Street will look like when their Filene’s building rebuild is completed.

Meanwhile, the developer is busy with a $3 billion project currently underway in New Songdo City, South Korea. If you want to see some awesome designs, click through to the .pdf.

Renderings, after the break, from a presentation at MIT given by Gale International.

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Eiffel Tower redux; the end of the world is near

Next year marks the 120th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower. To celebrate, the French will be adding a gigantic webbed Kevlar observation deck to the top, doubling the size of the deck and making the Eiffel Tower look like some sort of alien space needle.

eiffel tower

eiffel tower

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