Infrastructure, real estate converge in Boston P3

A real estate deal is allowing financing to flow towards infrastructure improvements at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center Station.

US real estate developer Peebles has agreed to a deal that will see it modernise infrastructure at the Hynes Convention Center Station on Boston's Green Line train. 

Peebles was granted air rights above a section of the Massachusetts Turnpike and part of a tunnel owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) by that agency and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). This will give the company permission to develop commercial and residential property in exchange for more than $30.5 million in rents, which will be utilised to fund station improvements. 

In addition, Peebles has agreed to set aside space for new station entrances and for relocated Green Line electrical equipment. The company will provide construction management services to the MBTA at no additional cost.

Peebles was selected as preferred developer over two other candidates through a public request for proposals (RFP) process last January.

“Preliminary cost estimates for the station work are $45.7 million,” according to the MassDOT blog. “MassDOT is expected to fund station costs above the rent to be paid by the developer.”  

The redesign of the station will be a boon to local disabled, as the Hynes station, despite being the busiest on the Green Line, is inaccessible to people with mobility-related disabilities. The revamp will see the construction of redundant elevators and stairs to both the inbound and outbound sides of Hynes station, making it fully accessible. 

According to the Peebles site development plan, the project, known as “The Viola”, will consist of 390,000 total gross square feet including 26,000 square feet of retail, 170 residential units, and a 60-room hotel, on-site parking and two public plazas. The development will be located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street.  

Peebles chief investment officer Tawan Davis praised MassDOT and MBTA for working “efficiently and nimbly to structure the terms of the development agreement in a way that incentivises private investment in public infrastructure”. 

Project permitting and design are expected to begin next year, with station improvements set to begin in 2019, according to MassDOT.