Copley Place owner unveils tower plan
By Scott Van Voorhis
Friday, March 21, 2008
A luxury condo and retail tower almost as tall as the Prudential building would soar over Copley Square under plans unveiled yesterday by the upscale Copley Place Mall’s owner.
Retail giant Simon Properties proposed a major expansion of the mall’s Neiman Marcus store, as well as new shops and restaurants - all topped by 300 condos priced at $1 million and up.
“With all the services and amenities Copley Place offers, we thought residential was just a natural component,” said Carl Dieterle, executive vice president of development for Simon.
The project’s launch comes after months of planning and efforts to head off concerns raised by some neighborhood activists that the proposed 47-story tower might cast a long shadow across nearby Copley Square and other Back Bay landmarks.
While acknowledging the shadow issue, Simon executives contend the tower’s design will limit the project’s impact.
The high-rise will take shape on a four-story podium, with the tower itself thin and tapered to create the least amount of shadow possible on Copley Square and on the nearby Commonwealth Avenue mall, Dieterle said.
Citing research Simon commissioned, Dieterle conceded the tower will cast a shadow across some of Copley Square and the Commonwealth mall - but only between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the winter and fall months. “It’s pencil like,” he said.
Still, the prospect of any additional shadows on Copley Square and the Commonwealth Avenue mall will have to thoroughly reviewed, said state Rep. Marty Walz (D-Back Bay).
And the design of the high-rise, given its proximity to the widely acclaimed Hancock tower, also needs to be carefully considered.
“It will be reflected in the facade of the Hancock Center and it has a very prominent position on the Back Bay skyline,” Walz said. “This needs to be a spectacularly beautiful building.”
More than just a new tower is planned, with a major retail expansion also in the works.
The project aims to add 54,000 square feet to the existing Neiman Marcus store, as well as an additional 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. A four-season winter garden is also planned.
And despite concerns over a weakening economy, Simon’s Dieterle notes the project won’t open until 2012 - likely putting it in a recovering real estate market.
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