In Boston, infill development is all about the ‘air rights’

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When Boston’s massive “Big Dig” project was completed in 2006, it helped smooth traffic flow by rerouting¬†Interstate 93, the main highway through the city, into a 3.5-mile underground tunnel. It also created new opportunities for developers to acquire “air rights” over underground roads running through the city.

In 1993, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority identified 23 air rights locations along Interstate 90 through Boston. Other parcels were created downtown as part of the Rose Kennedy Greenway in the space previously occupied by the elevated I-93 roadway.

But acquiring air rights can be easier said than done: Columbus Center, a $624 million plan by Winn Development that was to be the third major project built on top of the turnpike, was eventually abandoned. The last successful project over the turnpike, Copley Place, was built 30 years ago. The first — the Prudential Center — opened in 1965.

Now, Adam Weiner — the son of New England mall mogul Stephen Weiner — and his partner Steve Samuels have acquired air rights and a lease on two parcels near Boylston Street and Massachusetts Avenue, where they plan to spend $360 million on a project that will include a hotel, residences and shops, the Boston Globe reports.

Stephen Weiner thinks his son has a good shot at succeeding. While Columbus Center was to be built on “90 percent air,” only 25 percent of the project envisioned on one parcel will be built on air, and less than half of the other, the Globe reports. Source: bostonglobe.com

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