699 Boylston Street – a highly visible building at the corner of Boylston and Exeter Streets in Boston’s Back Bay – had long attracted sneers by its neighbors and the general public. Recognizing the vast potential of the site, AEW Capital Management purchased the building and quickly committed to repositioning the building to retain key tenants and attract new, specifically targeted tenants. Bergmeyer worked closely with AEW, the client’s property manager, and corporate and retail real estate firms to evaluate the property and determine the appropriate repositioning strategy. The first three floors of 699 were redesigned to create a more efficient lobby, enlarged retail spaces with contemporary façades of floor to ceiling glass, and extensive street level improvements to increase the value of the property in its prime location.
As the commercial real estate market in Boston rises, a major project goal was to reposition the building to compete with new Class A space in Boston. To realize the vision and execute their goals, AEW assembled a cross-disciplinary, collaborative team. The team included owner’s project manager Northstar Project & Real Estate Services to manage the day-to-day project, property managers and commercial brokerage from Cushman & Wakefield, experienced contractors from Shawmut Design and Construction, retail specialists from Colliers International, as well as an integrated design team including the landscape architecture firm Halverson Design Partnership and the architectural and interior design team at Bergmeyer.
While the building’s location in the heart of Back Bay is a critical component to the success of this project, location alone wouldn’t attract top notch prospects to the building. The key was to create value by transforming this site from a building that was overlooked, to one that would be engaging.
This transformation included the removal and complete renovation of the façade at the lower two levels of the building, synthesizing the new modern façade with the existing building above. The façade design required close collaboration between the team and the Back Bay Architectural Commission, who would provide final approval. The lobby integrates new technology to replace the former static directory and create an interactive experience for visitors. By capturing the unused common space from the existing lobby, the team was able to create additional leasable space at the street level for new tenants.
The streetscape was also transformed and the team worked with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and Massachusetts Architectural Access Board to implement the city’s new redesign for Boylston Street. The plaza for 699 Boylston Street is the first block to integrate the proposed streetscape design and will serve to influence future implementations.
AEW set out to create a fresh experience for the existing tenants of 699 Boylston Street, prospective tenants, and a revitalized streetscape for the City of Boston. With a BBAC-approved façade design, a new BRA-approved streetscape to be enjoyed by the public, and the addition of two high quality tenants, AT&T and BFX Studio, the project is already realizing its goals.
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