From West End to Uptown: Development Gives the Neighborhood a Moniker
A press release for the headquarters of Rapid7 caught the attention of the media when it included the word “Uptown” as it referred to the West End neighborhood. The global HQ of the technology company will relocate in West End but instead of saying the name of the neighborhood, the press release called the location as “Uptown neighborhood.”
Is “Uptown” a New Name or a Typo?
According to insiders, Uptown is merely a moniker created by the developers of the Hub on Causeway as well the owner of the TD Garden where the new headquarters will be constructed. The nickname is an attempt of these groups of people as a means to brand their massive project.
The location of the upcoming HQ is indeed in West End, particularly in the spot described to as a place for living, working, and playing.
What was in the Rapid7 Press Release?
On November 16th, Rapid7 announced to the press that they would relocate their headquarters. The analytics solutions company that provides services for IT operations and security made public that its HQ will move to another part of the West End neighborhood.
The original plan was that the headquarters would be built at 100 Summer Street. However, as per the press release, the company later decided that it would have its HQ to the Hub on Causeway. The new location is just next to the TD Garden. At this point of the announcement, the company called West End a “growing Uptown neighborhood.”
The word “Uptown” was mentioned three times in the press release. The second time the neighborhood was referred to as such, it said that the company is currently aiming to become a pioneer in the area, particularly at The Hub.
Rapid7 was described as one of the very first tech companies to ever make the Financial District in Boston as its home. With the relocation of the HQ, the firm intends to become the first at The Hub on Causeway as it is the anchor tenant. The company will also take the spot as one of the first tech firms to have its headquarters in the area.
The final mention of “Uptown” was from a quote. The developer company’s executive vice president said that their team is thrilled with the decision of the tech firm to move the HQ to the vibrant Uptown neighborhood. The reason behind the excitement is that they believe the company’s workforce will add to the energy in the area, particularly at The Hub on Causeway.
The executive VP also mentioned that they are looking forward to Rapid7’s being a part of the neighborhood, which will materialize in 2019. Therefore, the goal is to complete the construction in that year.
Meanwhile, the press release also talked about Rapid7’s plans to move its Cambridge team. The team currently stays at 1 Main Street. Based on the project, the group will be relocated to the new Boston HQ once it finishes construction. The reason for the relocation is to support improved alignment for the organization. It could also help increase efficiencies when it comes to the operations of the company. The move can take place in the second half of the year when the headquarters building is finally completed.
About the Rapid7 Global Headquarters in West End
As mentioned, the headquarters was supposed to be in another location. However, the developers and the company itself decided to move it to West End at The Hub. According to Rapid7, they decided to transfer the HQ to The Hub because they believe it would allow them to capitalize on the force they have built for the company.
Additionally, The Hub is a great location for them as they plan to connect their offices in the Boston area through the HQ, which will help increase the productivity of the global tech firm. The president and CEO of the company also mentioned that The Hub would provide them with enough room to grow as they start an innovation center in the capital city. All these things are possible despite the rising costs of land and spaces in Cambridge and Seaport.
The choice for the relocation can create a phenomenal experience for the workers in the Boston area. The company will continue to invest in the community of Boston as it also finds more talents to employ in the area.
The new headquarters can aid in strengthening the presence of the tech firm in the city of Boston as well as in the whole state of Massachusetts. It will help them add capacity, which may support fuel growth for the company and use the space to showcase innovation.
In 2014, Rapid7 moved to its office in 100 Summer Street. From then on, their global headcount has more than doubled and recently surpassed 1,000 people working for the company. Almost 500 of these employees work in the Boston area. It is one of the reasons why the firm has decided to maintain their location in the city.
The company believes that it is essential for the employees to have a community where they can all connect with one another. The Hub location is ideal for everyone because they believe that it would help optimize the productivity of the workforce, whether as a unit or as an individual.
During the time of the planning for the headquarters, the company was represented by three individuals who work as the company’s advisors. The architects were already in place and were given the task to lead the interior design for the building as well as the architecture for the new space. Meanwhile, the developers, along with the developers of The Hub, were represented by their external counsel throughout the transaction.
The Hub on Causeway
The Hub on Causeway is located at 100 Causeway Street at the Bullfinch Triangle in Boston. This 1.87 million square feet space will be converted into a mixed-use development. It will feature a total of three towers that will provide areas for residential, hotel, retail, and office uses. The Hub on Causeway is a 950 million dollar project that will be comprised of three phases.
For the first phase, the construction will consist of 210,000 square feet of the retail or restaurant space, which will take multiple levels of the building. Meanwhile, 175,000 square feet will go to creative office space. Star Market has already claimed 60,000 square feet in the building while ArcLight Cinema will also take 60,000 square feet and promises to provide 15 screens for entertainment.
The development will also be comprised of 64,000 square feet of expansion space for the TD Garden and another 10,000 square feet for the outdoor area, which will be used as an entrance to the North Station and the TD Garden as well.
For parking, phase one of the project will include construction of 540 underground spaces for cars, which will be connected to the current and existing garage.
Once the first phase is completed for The Hub on Causeway project, the second stage will begin. It is expected that the first step will reach completion in late 2018. As for the second phase, it will comprise of a 38-story tower, which will be used as residential space. It will have about 440 units. The second phase will also include a 10-story hotel tower that is planned to have approximately 260 rooms.
For the last phase, it will start building a 21-story tower, which will be used for offices. The total space that will be taken by the construction is 525,000 square feet.
The first phase of the project also consists of the Rapid7 headquarters, which would anchor the phase one for The Hub on Causeway Project. Before that, both Live Nation New England and Big Night Entertainment Group signed the lease for entertainment venues in the tower. Excavation for underground parking was completed in July of 2017.
Last January 2016, officials of the state and the city, along with some representatives for the developers of The Hub on Causeway project, attended the groundbreaking to commence the construction. This project is slated for the site of the historic Boston Garden, which is along Causeway Street right in the middle of the borderlands of North End and West End.
Connected to The Hub on Causeway, as well as the upcoming Rapid7 HQ is the TD Garden. Due to the transformation of the Boston Garden site and the North Station area, the TD Garden will have its fair share of development.
TD Garden opened in 1995 and will soon be expanded as part of The Hub project. Since its opening, over 30 million people visited to watch its famous tenants, including the Boston Bruins of the NHL and the Boston Celtics of the NBA. Renowned concerts, family shows, ice shows, and wrestling also took place in the arena.
TD Garden is now privately owned and financed and is comprised of 19,600 seats. It also features several fully-equipped restaurants and 90 executive suits. There are also more than 1,000 club seats and a high definition video scoreboard famously called the Garden HDX. The total size of the arena is 755,000 square feet and currently occupies a 3.2 acre site constructed above a 1,150 space parking garage for the MBTA.
TD Garden measures 10 stories and stands over 160 feet high. Among the facilities in the area are a total of seven elevators, 13 escalators, 47 stands for concession, and more than 40 permanent locations. There are also five portable locations in the arena. Restrooms for men and women are 17 all in all for each gender. The cost to build the TD Garden was $160 million.
More Improvements and Developments in and Around the West End Area
Boston is currently undergoing some major boom when it comes to developments – and redevelopments. Some of these projects will happen and are happening in the West End neighborhood. Perhaps one of the most notable today is the Hub on Causeway as the developers have already broke ground in 2016 for this colossal project.
Meanwhile, here are details about the other developments in the neighborhood:
Aside from The Hub, the city is also approved for a new project at 35 Lomasney Way. The project is about replacing a garage known as Garden Garage that is four stories tall with a residential building. Once finished, the structure will consist of 44 stories and 470 apartments. It will reach a height of 485 feet and will cover 367,000 square feet of space. The project will also involve 830 areas for parking.
The transformation was not the original plan though. The first idea was about the garage to become two towers. However, many people opposed the project for various reasons, which is why the towers were morphed into one and the new plan is good to go.
Back in 2014, the plan to demolish Garden Garage seemed to have made a lot of people happy. For one, it was considered one of the worst relics during the time when the city of Boston was starting to have significant structures. For years, the Garden Garage remained to be a bulky piece of concrete that just stood in the West End neighborhood, cutting it off from the North Station.
The Bostonians seemed to rejoice over the idea of demolishing the Garden Garage. However, the proposal of the developer for the plan struggled because there were some deep fault lines discovered within the neighborhood.
In addition, there were residents who were not too pleased about the plan. According to them, they were convinced that the apartment complex that was to be built was too big for the area. As a result, the city development officials turned down the proposal for the development.
Later on, the developer had a new plan. It was a paradox: the new plan was taller than the previous one but it is much smaller. The developer believed that the strategy could potentially redefine the relationship of the city when it comes to new developments done on a large scale.
The Garden Garage towers over Lomasney Way, just behind the Boston Garden. It is located at the edge of the parkland and the line of homes that were once the position of the old West End. The Garage is comparable to the Harbor Garage of Don Chiofaro and the Government Center Garage. Some observers believe it to have been built to divide places that should be connected in Boston. In fact, it has severed the Charles River and the West End from the North Station.
The Garden Garage is also putting up a wall on West Enders as they cannot see the developments in the Bulfinch Triangle as well as the Boston Garden. In the Bulfinch Triangle during the time of the proposal, there were already several blocks of recently built apartments and shops. Additionally, there was a three-tower complex just next to the Garden Garage. The location was once where the old Boston Garden was sitting before. This project now has 500 new homes, one office space, and a hotel. There is also a supermarket that spreads across the three towers. Out of these towers, the most massive stands 600 feet high.
Behind the Garden Garage, there was a new construction as well. This time, it was a 38-story tower, which now consists of 503 apartment units. Before, the garage was not considered a serious disfigurement in the urban setting. However, it was soon in the middle of a fresh downtown area and so it was only a matter time when it joined the surrounding environment.
Because of the evolution of the neighborhood, the developers decided that they would also try to revamp the area by removing the garage. Since 2011, the developers were trying to win the city council and get the permits. However, there were angry neighbors who were not happy with the plan.
Finally, the plan was approved and now the garage will become an addition to the housing stock of Boston. The aim is to create a high quality space with improved experience for the pedestrians moving around the site. The Boston Redevelopment Authority accepted the plan consisting of a 44-story tower. The project is well underway and it can lead to a striking transformation for the North and West End.
Construction and other activities are expected to be completed by the time June 2019 comes.
Another improvement in the area is the Bulfinch Crossing, which is comprised of six buildings. The humongous project will include a total of 2.9 million square feet for the retail, hotel rooms, and residential developments. The first phase of the project has already started in January 2017 in which it will soon have a 45-story residential tower with a total height of 480 feet. It will also include 496 units.
Meanwhile, for the second phase of the project, it will involve a 43-story tower that will be 528 feet high. It will cover one million square feet, which will be used as an office space. It is currently called One Congress.
The burst of renewal construction in the urban areas swept the city of Boston starting from the 50s to the 60s. The goal was to modernize while rescuing the stagnant parts of the city, particularly those that were struggling financially. Many of the buildings during that time did not age well though. For this reason, development proposals and plans that eventually turned into an ongoing construction such as the ones above have begun.
Bulfinch Crossing is yet another garage that also came from the 1960s era. As mentioned, it will be transformed into a mixed-use structure. The plan for this project involves the redevelopment of the Government Center Garage, which will soon have six buildings. The total measurement of the project is 2.9 million and is located in downtown Boston.
When this project is completed, it will become one of the tallest projects in the city. It will contain 800 residential units as well as 200 hotel rooms. It will use 82,500 of space out of the 1.15 million square feet for retail shops.
Bullfinch Crossing project is a $1.5 billion project and the developers believe that the area symbolizes a brand new era for Boston. It is actually a redevelopment of the Government Center Garage and it will reinvent the building as a dynamic part of the plan that will embody what the company wants to achieve in the future.
Today, these developments are primarily aimed at replacing or repairing buildings that should have been fixed about half a century ago.
With the growth of Boston over the last few decades, many investors have started focusing on complex projects, particularly mixed-use ones that have the purpose of serving the city of tomorrow. These developments involve transit-oriented and connected communities, particularly the ones mentioned above.
More about West End Real Estate
West End has always been a popular historic neighborhood in the city of Boston. The housing market in the area is lukewarm at the moment with about 10 to 20 properties that are up for sale. However, with the several projects in the neighborhood, it is anticipated that these numbers will soon be higher, thanks to the additional residential units in the upcoming buildings.
The number of homes for sale is currently seeing an 11.1% reduction in inventory but it is projected to increase starting next year. The number of new homes for sale is also quite low, seeing exactly a 60% decrease this year alone.
As for the asking price per square foot, the properties are quite expensive with the average at $631. However, the amount is actually lower than last year – six dollars smaller to be precise. The average sale price for the homes in West End is currently held at $533,950, which also decreased compared to last year when it was $143,700 higher.
However, the sellers should not fret. In fact, there are many good reasons to start selling properties in West End. One good reason is that the average sale price as the percentage of the asking price has seen a 3.6% increase to 107%. The average sale price for every square foot has also increased to $670, which is seven dollars higher than last year.
Although the average days on the market of the sold property has increased to 31 days, making them stay with the “for sale” sign for up to 109 days, it should not discourage the sellers. More quality potential homeowners wait for a few extra days before buying. Additionally, some of the house hunters are willing to shell out more money than the original asking price to get the house of their dreams.
In the West End neighborhood, you can expect to find condos, apartments with one, two, three, and four bedrooms, and single family units.
Will the People Start Calling West End “Uptown” Now?
Rapid7 may have initiated nicknaming West End as the Uptown neighborhood but there are no signs that the moniker will stick. Citizens may be willing to change the name to help bring attention to the area just like what other places in Boston have done.
A good example is the Financial District. During that time, New York changed their Financial District to FIDi, which may have prompted the change of name for Boston’s very own Financial District. According to commercial real estate brokers, it was high time for the city to rebrand the Financial District and one of the best ways to do this is to alter the old name and make it more current.
Revamping the Financial District at that time was crucial because Boston needed to recover from the much talked about Great Recession. It was in 2012 when the Financial District of Boston was lagging other districts in the nation. According to analysts, most of the businesses would want to have their offices near shops, housing, and restaurants. These critical units will attract workers and even clients. Unfortunately, for the city’s Financial District, it did not have that.
For the Seaport and Back Bay, they did not have problems with their districts, which was why they were doing better than the city center. It was in 2010 when the Seaport neighborhood transformed its financial community into Innovation District.
The transformation resulted in many gains for Seaport, including having office rentals shot up to 44% in just three years. Additionally, the prices were higher than the Financial District but there were still several companies renting spaces. The rebranding of the Innovation District allowed it to expand and grow in a few years and perhaps the same thing could happen when the Financial District would be renamed.
For some citizens (but brokers most especially), having a new name would spread the good news about the area. It would also help recovery become speedier than just remaining stagnant with its brand. However, it would first require apartments, retail, and nightlife among many others. The goal was to make Boston appealing to younger people.
However, it did not materialize and perhaps the people in West End and the surrounding areas are not ready for the change. Still, there is only one way to find out and that means we should wait.
Transformation and Rebranding the West End
In just a few years, the North Station area will not be the same as it is now. There will be huge changes and improvements, which are definitely for the gains of the district. The co-developers of the 1.5 million square feet The Hub on Causeway will soon rebrand the neighborhood. Historically, the neighborhood is called the West End.
Large parts of the neighborhood have already been destroyed due to the urban renewal, which took place in the 50s and 60s. As part of the transformation, the developers are aiming to change the name to Uptown. Perhaps because they believe the neighborhood needs the new name or it may be due to the neighborhood being a lively and upscale part of the city. One thing is for sure: the developers chose to change the name “temporarily” in their press release to get some attention for the project.
Visitors of the West End typically from the Storrow Drive and they pass by the ramp of the TD Garden. They will have to enter Route 1 or I-93 to see the historic place called West End. Shops and offices, as well as residential buildings, line the streets and people are always busy.
Numerous changes have taken place, including the fact that the West End has dramatically expanded. A photo of it will have the Charles River, just beside the Cambridgeside Galleria. There is also the Green Line that is being used today and on the other side, the Causeway Street stands.
West End used to have brick apartments as well as neighborhood stores, but all these were replaced with luxury high rises. Businesses in the new part of the community are not that strong but that is expected to change in just a few months. Currently, the landscape is changing. West End used to be a destination but then it became more like a refuge for those who want a quiet place. The neighborhood is starting to have a bustling center once again.
Aside from the urban renewal projects, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) demolished the Scollay Square. It was a district for commercial and theater in Boston right at the edge of West End. The square was replaced by some buildings for the government. Although some people were dismayed with the change, it cannot be denied that some modifications were required to restore and renovate the neighborhood.
There is a small section of the West End that remains to be what it was once was before. They were not picked for demolition and they survive until today. These buildings show the potential of the infrastructure in West End. Today, with the headquarters for the tech company Rapid7, along with the developments like The Hub on Causeway, it is certainly possible to help make the area more vibrant than it already is.