Magic Beans(town)

Pelli Clarke Pelli’s massive South Station tower will finally begin construction

South Station will soon sprout a 51-story tower. (Eric Kilby/Flickr)

After more than a decade, developers of a 2.75-million-square-foot air rights complex are aiming to begin construction this month atop Boston’s historic South Station.

Headlined by a 51-story Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed tower, the Hines-led project was first approved by the City of Boston in 2006 and given a redesign in 2016. Investor reshufflings and related negotiations for the air rights deal, which closed in late December per the Boston Business Journal, have held up the massive project and turned it into “one of the biggest what-ifs in Boston-area real estate.”

Now, the start of construction seems imminent for the South Station tower, which will emerge from the ninth floor of the transit hub and rise to a height of 678 feet—a notable elevation given that the city’s tallest building hits its peak at 790 feet.

Rendering of a glassy tower growing from South Station

A rendering of South Station tower. (Courtesy Hines)

Current plans call for 641,000 square feet of office space, 166 condominium units, 6,000 square feet of retail, and parking for nearly 900 cars across the glassy, stepped tower. The project also includes a 106,000-square-foot expansion of South Station’s bus terminal. Developer Hines has noted its intent to preserve the Classical Revival train station while allowing for its future expansion. The National Register of Historic Places-listed structure was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge (now Shepley Bulfinch) and originally opened in 1899.

Additional buildings are planned for the phased air rights project, too, including a 349-foot-tall hotel, and a 279-foot-tall office building, both of which will be constructed atop South Station and join Pelli Clarke Pelli’s mixed-use tower. It is, however, unclear when these components will begin construction.

The kickoff at South Station follows on other major air rights and transit center expansion projects in Boston, including a 1.26 million-square-foot air rights development planned for Back Bay Station, a 1.3 million-square-foot air rights complex designed by The Architectural Team (TAT) now underway at Fenway Center, and late December’s topping out of a major office tower at the Gensler-designed The Hub on Causeway above Boston’s North Station.

Related Stories