BRA Chief Meade: Investors think Boston’s hot

By 
State House News Service
Sep. 14, 2011

Boston’s development chief on Tuesday offered a bullish assessment of near-term prospects for growth in the city, ticking off projects recently completed and claiming global investors view Boston as one of four or five “hot cities” in the United States.

Boston Redevelopment Authority Director Peter Meade, addressing a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast, described projects on the drawing board in the Fenway area, hotels “waiting to get in the door” in the South End, New Balance’s consideration of new corporate headquarters in the city, and Harvard’s eagerness to start work on a $100 million building that’s part of its business school in Allston.

Based on his prepared remarks, Meade also cited as accomplishments the new $16 million Central Boston Elder Services facility, the opening this summer of the new $15 million Area B-2 police station, and the projected addition of two million square feet of retail and office space in Dudley Square over the next five years. Meade said 400 city employees will eventually work out of the renovated Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square, with a groundbreaking on the $115 million project scheduled for next spring.

While vacancies downtown, in addition to the massive hole left after Filene’s was torn down years ago, have fueled concerns about that area of the city, Meade said 45 new businesses have come to the downtown area since 2008 and 16 more are coming this year. Meade said he’s spoken with officials from Vornado, the company that owns the Filene’s site, but made no promises about redevelopment.

Saying he’d continue to talk with Vornado officials, Meade said, “They are as likely to be a part of the solution as they’ve been a part of the problem.”

Meade said investors he’s spoken to in recent weeks from New York, the West Coast, Europe and China want to do business in Boston.

“They tell me that there are four or five hot U.S. cities right now, and we’re one of them,” Meade said, describing the city’s development pipeline as “strong and only getting stronger.”

Since last year, more than 70 companies have moved to the city’s Innovation District near the South Boston waterfront, Meade said, calling the $800 million Vertex project on Fan Pier “the largest privately financed construction project in the nation.”

“No longer do we have to ask companies to be pioneers on the South Boston waterfront,” Meade said, according to his prepared remarks. “We are still reaching out to invite companies to the Innovation district, but now companies are knocking on our door asking how they can be there.”