Even though construction in the city has drawn to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state is still moving forward with plans to redevelop the Charles F. Hurley Building, according to Abigail Vladeck, senior project manager for the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance.
Vladeck provided an update on the proposed redevelopment of the 3327,00 square-foot Hurley Building located at the corner of Staniford and Cambridge streets, which opened in 1971, and is home to several state agencies, including the Department of Unemployment Assistance, during a virtual meeting sponsored by the Beacon Hill Civic Association on Thursday, April 16.
A private partner selected by the state would enter into a ground lease for the site and assume responsibility for planning, financing and permitting, Vladeck said, adding that expected benefits of the project include the creation of modern, cost-comparable office space for state employees and public-realm improvements across an eight-acre block.
“We’re not coming up with the plan for what we’re developing there, that’s what we’re soliciting from the developer, along with public input,” Vladeck said. “We’ve heard different civic uses proposed for the site, including a school and more generic civic space that could be for public programming.”
Vladeck described the Hurley Building as an “underutilized site downtown” that is a “difficult building to program” while offering a “problematic street-level experience.”
The timeline for the project set prior to the coronavirus pandemic striking Boston included the launch of the formal process to find a partner this fall and designation of the partner by mid-2021. Permitting and financing would be finalized by late 2022, with the project slated for completion in early 2025.
While this proposed schedule is likely to change now, Vladeck said, “The good thing about a government timeline is it allows you to wait out the crisis a bit.”
Vladeck also said she doesn’t expect interest in redeveloping the site would wane due to the current economic climate.
“I think the fundamental concept will be able to move forward,” Vladeck said. “Over the long timespan, if no one is interested in the site, we have bigger problems.”
State Rep. Jay Livingstone said, “One thing that’s unique about this public space is the expectations of people are different, especially because of the lack of a school or a senior center in Beacon Hill or the West End.”
City Councilor Ed Flynn said, “I don’t want this opportunity to pass us by without getting the public involved with want they want to see there.”
City Councilor Michael Flaherty said it would make to develop the site as a whole, since a Planned Development Area (PDA) – an overlay district designated by the city that establishes special zoning controls for larger or complex projects – is permitted on a portion of it.
Beacon Hill resident Jeannette Herrmann underscored the important of engaging the MBTA early on in the redevelopment process because the Hurley Building is convenient to all the subway lines, as well as North Station.
“There really isn’t room to add much traffic,” she added.
For more information or to submit a comment on the Hurley Building redevelopment plans, visit https://www.mass.gov/service-details/charles-f-hurley-building-redevelopment.