Credit: Ted Cushman
Crews demolish the landmark Filenes building in downtown Boston in August, 2013, to prepare the site for a $630 million commercial development. Construction in the city is accelerating, boosted by a hot local economy and supportive city policies.
He has been the longest-serving mayor in the history of Boston, Massachusetts: When he leaves office on January 6, 2014, Thomas Menino will have been Boston's mayor for 20 years. One legacy he will leave behind him: buildings. Lots of buildings.
The New York Times has the story here: ("In Boston, Mayor Builds a Legacy With Construction Cranes," by Katharine Q. Seelye). "During his 20-year tenure, [Menino] has overseen the addition of 80 million square feet of development, increasing the city's total square footage of office and residential space by 11 percent," the Times reports. "The projects range from the $1 billion Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, completed in 2004, to almost 12,000 college dormitory rooms. He has backed a new casino; he proposed spending $16 billion in private and public money to build 30,000 housing units by 2020; and developers are planning a new residential tower at the Christian Science Plaza that, at 691 feet, will become the tallest residential building in the Boston skyline."
With his term winding down, Menino is looking to cement that legacy with appointments to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, a city agency with extensive powers over development and construction, reports the Boston Globe ("Menino's grip on BRA may outlast his tenure," by Casey Ross).
"Menino recently appointed Michael Monahan, head of a local electrical workers union, to a five-year term on the BRA board," reports the Globe. "The mayor has also said he will soon name a replacement for chairman Clarence 'Jeep' Jones, who announced his retirement last week after 32 years as a board member. The appointments will allow Menino to influence the direction of one the city's most powerful bodies for the next several years. The five-member BRA board controls decision-making on all significant development projects in Boston and now presides over one of the most active periods of construction in the city's history."
The race to succeed Menino is a close multi-candidate contest, and whoever wins could try to reduce the powerful BRA's turf, the Globe notes. "The next mayor could circumvent Menino's late-term appointments by dismantling the BRA board or limiting its control over development projects," the paper reports. "But such a process would be likely to take many months and could disrupt the review process during a period of rapid development activity in the city. More than 5,300 homes are under construction in Boston's neighborhoods, and new office buildings and hotels are sprouting from Roxbury to the Back Bay to the South Boston Innovation District. On Thursday, Skanska Commercial Development USA formally started construction of a 17-story office tower to be occupied by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in the Innovation District, one of a half dozen major projects in that area."