|By Chris Reidy, The Boston Globe|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
June 10, 2004 - Construction began at 500 Atlantic Ave. this week on a 424-room InterContinental Boston hotel, whose upper floors will house 130 luxury condos, developer Intell Boston Harbor LLC said yesterday.
Today the site in the Financial District between the proposed Rose Kennedy Greenway and Fort Point Channel is occupied by structures that are part of the ventilation system for the new depressed Central Artery, including two 237-foot high cement towers, said Brian Fallon, an owner of Intell Boston Harbor.
Plans call for a $330 million waterfront hotel and condo building to wrap around the ventilation system. When the 20-story project is completed in mid-2006, the vents will be hidden from both pedestrians and from airplane passengers looking at the Boston skyline while flying in or out of Logan International Airport. Residents paying $1.4 million or more for a condo will not be able to see, smell or hear any evidence that the innards of the building are venting air from the new Artery tunnel, developers said.
"The vents will be invisible," said Gary Barnett, an owner of Intell Boston Harbor.
The InterContinental will be "a signature Fort Point Channel building" that will help turn the area into a lively neighborhood, said Mark Maloney, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Coupled with such projects as a proposed glass-enclosed botanical garden for this stretch of the Greenway and the proposed renovation of neighboring Russia Wharf, this part of the city is "going to be the big scene for Boston for the next 10 years," he added.
Given the challenge of building around a vent system, it's taken 14 years to get from the glimmer of an idea for the 500 Atlantic Ave. project to the start of construction, Fallon said. Barnett added Intell Boston Harbor is about to close on a financing package of roughly $250 million with HSBC, a financial services company based in London.
On the Fort Point Channel side of the project, the developers envision a European-style plaza similar to Post Office Square. The building's upper eight floors will be condos, most with harbor views. Given the hot condo market, they are crucial to attracting financing.
"To an extent, we're subsidizing the hotel with luxury condos," Barnett said.
The site is also important to InterContinental.
"We are pleased to introduce the first InterContinental Hotel in Boston in this stellar location overlooking the Boston Harbor," Stevan Porter, president of the InterContinental Hotels Group, the Americas, said in a statement.
Combining a luxury hotel with luxury condos also allows condo owners to enjoy such hotel amenities as room service or access to a hotel spa, Barnett noted.
Residences at the InterContinental, the condo component of 500 Atlantic Ave., will likely have starting prices of $800 to $900 per square foot, he said. That would translate into a price range of $1.4 million to $1.6 million for an average two-bedroom unit.
A neighbor of InterContinental also has big plans for the area between the Greenway and Fort Point Channel.
Equity Office Properties has put forward a $300 million proposal to transform Russia Wharf into a mixed-use development that would include office, residential, hotel, and retail space as well as a public plaza on the water. The hope is to begin construction next year on a 32-story tower expected to open in 2008.
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