Church selects broker for next phase of Christian Science Plaza project

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Following last year’s City of Boston approvals of a Planned Development Area (PDA) Master Plan for the Christian Science Plaza, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, has engaged HFF, LP to serve as its agent to market to qualified investors long-term leases of two development sites on Belvidere and Dalton Streets and of the existing 26-story office building located at 177 Huntington Avenue in Boston’s vibrant Back Bay.  See graphic below for Plaza plan and site locations.

HFF is one of the nation’s leading commercial real estate firms, with an excellent track record and a unique capital markets approach to assignments of this nature.

“This is a thrilling assignment for our firm, and frankly one that is perfectly suited for today’s environment,” said John Fowler, executive managing director of HFF.  “Given its 24/7 character, the Back Bay is one of the nation’s top performing submarkets in terms of office, hotel, retail and residential demand.  Investors are extremely focused on gateway markets and particularly on those assets that will maintain their value over the long-term.”

While the Church and HFF have not yet determined the exact timeline for seeking proposals from third-party real estate investors and developers, it will likely be several weeks before a formal process is begun.

A long-term ground or master lease structure is well suited for the Church.  By putting selective real estate assets to more productive use and reducing its involvement with their day-to-day operation, the Church will be better able to focus its resources on its mission and have its real estate holdings be more self-sustaining over the long-term.  

Plaza Revitalization Project.  The Christian Science Plaza will remain the world headquarters for The First Church of Christ, Scientist.

In 2006, the Church announced plans to develop a long-term strategic plan for the Christian Science Plaza.  Since that time, the Plaza Revitalization Project Plan was completed in cooperation with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and other City agencies and with input from the Citizens Advisory Committee appointed by Mayor Menino.  

The Plaza Revitalization Project has three main objectives:

  1. Enhancing the open space,
  2. Improving the environmental sustainability of the Plaza, and
  3. Identifying opportunities for underutilized real estate.

The review process included over 20 public meetings leading to the approval of the PDA Master Plan by the BRA and Boston Zoning Commission in August and September 2011.

Belvidere/Dalton Development Sites.   The PDA Master Plan approved the following building sizes for the Belvidere/Dalton development sites across from the Hilton and Sheraton Hotels:

  •  Belvidere/Dalton High-Rise:  approximately 600,000 square feet with maximum height of 512 feet.
  • Belvidere/Dalton Mid-Rise:  approximately 200,000 square feet with maximum height of 251 feet.

Specific building designs for the Belvidere/Dalton sites will go through the City’s Article 80 public review process before construction would begin.

177 Huntington Avenue.  In 2008 the Church announced that it would begin the interim leasing of 177 Huntington Avenue, after relocating employees to the newly refurbished (with LEED-Gold rating for Commercial Interiors) Publishing House building, the largest office building on the Plaza.  The Church also indicated that long-term use of the building would be determined as part of the overall Plaza revitalization plans.  177 Huntington is now almost fully occupied by multiple tenants.  Their leases will be transferred to the new building operator under the master building lease. 

Other Components.  Other components of the PDA Master Plan, including the Huntington development site and a retail pavilion at the intersection of Huntington and Belvidere, are not part of the HFF mandate.  Also HFF will not be involved with plans for the open space and sustainability improvements.  
 
 Additional background information
 Planned Development Area (PDA) Master Plan for CS Plaza
 
 For more information, contact
 Eric Bashor:  bashore@csps.com or 617-450-3309
 Coleman Benedict:  cbenedict@hfflp.com or 617-338-0990

Proposed site plan without pool crossing

Christian Science Plaza Revitalization Project:  Locations of Two Development Sites and Existing Office Building to be Offered by HFF for Long-term Leases. (Click here for full-resolution PDF.)  

  1. Thanks for the update. What's the status of the Hutington mid-rise?

  2. "Progress is the law of God" as this project is proving.

  3. Thanks for sharing all the great progress!

  4. thanks for keeping us all updated on the progress of these sites and for the visual.

  5. thank you for understanding the courage it takes to move into a shared livability thrust. This church, the church I belong to, puts forth the architecture of Love's unfoldment, of Truth's continual, creative revealing of Principle and how it operates to mankind's blessing. It is a new model, I am grateful the current administators went forth--- as did Abraham, out of what was comfortable into what must have felt unpredictable, and the wilderness MBE defines.

  6. Congratulations everyone. The progress of our church is so important to the world and its people.
    Humanly, supply and income are necessary and obviously you have selected developers and long-term managers well.
    Great to see vacant buildings managed and vibrant again.

  7. wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    To Almighty God be the glory.

    I'm very happy for that news.

  8. As a member of The Mother Church for many years I so appreciate and express my gratitude in the action the Board of Directors have taken in the management of TMC building affairs. The prayerful effort certainly proves God's guiding, guarding and governing. The action also supports Mrs. Eddy's comment "what blesses one, blesses all". Thank you so much in sharing the activities which encourages our individual prayerful support and love for all those working to see God's activities present and powerful blessing the world.

  9. I visited The Mother Church about 8 years ago and it was obvious then that new plans were needed for some of the "newer" structures. I never doubted that good work was being done or that the unfoldment of ideas blessing all were there and very clearly still are. I am grateful to have visited and met some of the staff who is dedicated to the mission of spreading the healing Truth. I truly appreciate all the people who are work;ing with prayerful thought to accomplish this project. THANK YOU.

  10. What exactly will the "retail pavilion" be?

  11. Thanks, John, for your question! The retail pavilion is envisioned as a modest-sized structure — no more than 35 feet tall and 2,000 total square feet. Although specific use has not been determined, ideas include a breakfast or lunch restaurant and a retail operation that caters to users of the nearby Children's Fountain during the summer and a possible ice skating area during the winter.

  12. Thanks for your question, RLB. The current focus is on the Belvidere/Dalton development sites and 177 Huntington Avenue. The timing for the Huntington mid-rise site hasn't yet been determined.

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