By Seth Daniel
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) announced last week it had purchased a new organizational headquarters in Charlestown and will move from its long time Beacon Hill headquarters after nearly 100 years of planting its flag on the Hill.
The $13.1 million purchase in Charlestown followed the September sale of AMC’s headquarters on Joy Street. The official transition will take place in September 2017 after a renovation of the Charlestown building.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” said AMC President John Judge. “We have a 100-year history here and couldn’t be happier with our friends and neighbors here on Beacon Hill. It really came down more to the struggles of this particular building and not the neighborhood at all. We had to go between three disjointed townhouses here and they didn’t have handicap accessibility, there was no working elevator and all the systems are old. There no central air conditioning and the furnace was old and needed serious attention. All of those things together made us seriously consider other options. We moved to a place that will support our staff, volunteers and employees in the 21st Century.”
He reiterated a story about a member from the neighborhood who had been part of AMC for 70 years, and whose family before her had been involved. When they broke the news to her that AMC would move, he said she understood.
“She paused for a second and said, ‘I totally get it,’” he said. “We’ll really miss Beacon Hill.”
Centrally located across the Charles River from North Station, AMC’s newly purchased building is surrounded by historic landmarks and a variety of revitalized urban open spaces, including adjacent City Square Park and John Harvard Mall, Paul Revere Park, and the Boston National Historical Park.
“We’re thrilled,” said Judge. “It’s an exciting time for organization. We’re the country’s oldest outdoors organization. We’ve always been headquartered in Boston. I”m a huge Charlestown fan and have many friends who live and work in Charlestown now. My dad actually did the landscape design for the park over by the Schrafft’s Center. I was also involved in scouting in Charlestown right out of college. We were just so pleased to get the opportunity to buy 10 City Square. It allows us so much more flexibility as an organization and it also allows us access to the Charlestown community, which we’re very excited about.”
AMC reinvested proceeds from the sale of its current headquarters to purchase 10 City Square for $13.1 million from Carey Realty LLC and City Square Holdings LLC, and it will upgrade the building to support AMC staff and programs. AMC also expects to raise funds to offset a portion of the cost of the purchase and renovation, support needed technology upgrades, and expand its outdoor recreation, conservation, and education mission impact in serving city residents and underserved communities.
Judge said it will be bittersweet to leave their long-time Joy Street headquarters, but they felt the time had come to have a building that supported a 21st Century working space. The old headquarters wasn’t handicap accessible, had no working elevator and no amenities like central air conditioning – to name a few things.
The Charlestown mixed-use, brick-and-beam 1892 building listed on the National Register of Historic Places includes five floors of office space above ground floor retail. AMC plans to occupy approximately half of the 38,442 square-foot building, with the remainder leased by existing tenants.
The sale officially closed on Dec. 5 and was authorized by AMC’s Board of Directors, which includes Judge. AMC plans to renovate the space prior to moving by fall 2017.
Judge said they would likely schedule an open house for the community next fall.
AMC’s headquarters supports its outdoor recreation, conservation, and education efforts across its service area of Maine to Washington, D.C., as well as programs that benefit Boston area residents. Major AMC initiatives in Greater Boston include the organization’s Youth Opportunities Program, which was founded in 1968 and offers outdoor leadership training and trip support to urban youth agency workers and teachers; Outdoors Rx, a partnership with health care providers serving families and children in vulnerable communities by prescribing the outdoors as a path to better health; leadership of trail construction and maintenance on the 230-mile Bay Circuit Trail and Greenway running through 37 communities around Boston; and statewide conservation policy work. AMC’s Boston Chapter also offers a variety of free, close-to-home outdoor activities led by experienced volunteers.
“Our new location allows us to better serve people in Boston neighborhoods, as well as AMC Youth Opportunities Program partners like the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club, in a setting with multiple parks, thanks to the work of our longstanding partners at the City of Boston, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the National Park Service,” continued Judge.
To advise its search, AMC worked with commercial real estate broker McCall & Almy, which will contribute a portion of related fees back to AMC. Pro bono legal counsel on the transaction was led by Michael Litchman from Goodwin Procter.