The future Copley Tower (which we discussed in a previous blog post) developed by The Simon Property Group, was originally hoping to get this project underway in the Spring of 2012 but it now looks like next Fall is more likely to be the anticipated starting date. The central reason for this setback is because there is a huge uproar in the community for Simon to add more affordable housing units in the tower.
But why just for the Copley Tower? The stance that Simon is holding firm is that they will change their initial amount of affordable housing, originally planned for 32 units out of the total 318 in the building, roughly 10%. Moreover, to satisfy the Bostons minimum requirement of 15% for affordable housing for any condo building, Simons project manager Jack Hobbs along with the rest of his team have agreed to meet this limit. Mayor Menino is pleased that Simon is no longer choosing to build the rest of their instructed 15% of affordable housing units in other separate neighborhoods of the city. Now, having more of these family-style and individual sized apartments in the heart of Boston in the new Copley Tower will be an immeasurable asset to the community and to these people who can live and work right downtown.
Regardless of this compliance by the developers, there have nonetheless still been uproar over the idea of a 47-storey residential building that will likely cast a massive shadow over Copley Square. Even efforts to Occupy the Mayors Office was not enough to sway Meninos belief that this building will not only create jobs, but will for the prolonged future be a beneficial addition to the Boston city skyline and eastern Massachusetts in general.
Simon has even pledged to put $1 million dollars towards public artwork, build an indoor public garden and upgrade the street level entrances and to the Southwest Corridor Park. State Representative Byron Rushing has nonetheless been pressing on The Simon Property Group to increase the percentage of the building to 25% allocated to affordable housing units! This would be 80 living spaces, something that Simon refused to do. It seems as though this will be a constant battle, and thus the reason for the delayed commencement date for this development. Yes this is going to be the tallest residential building in Boston, but surely an attraction to that area will only be positive for restaurants, retailers and the real estate market. If other buildings are able to have 15% for affordable housing with no quarrels then so should the Copley Tower especially with the other improvements they are vowing to make to the area on their own accord, right? Well, this is the defense of the developers at least, whether we buy it or not.