FBI Building Touted by Developer as Offering Numerous ‘Firsts’

August 22, 2013
By
A vague rendering of the 9-story proposed New England FBI building that would occupy a vacant lot next to Rt. 1 on Maple Street. The City's Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board will review plans on the building at a public meeting on Aug. 27th.

A vague rendering of the 9-story proposed New England FBI building that would occupy a vacant lot next to Rt. 1 on Maple
Street. The City’s Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board will review plans on the building at a public meeting on Aug. 27th.

The developer of the proposed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regional headquarters on Beech Street will tout the prestige and ‘firsts’ that the building will bring to Chelsea when they go before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and Planning Board this coming Tuesday, Aug. 27th.

In filings deposited at the City’s Planning Department, ACS Development principal Patricia Simboli said the proposed building would not only be the tallest building in Chelsea at 150 feet tall, but also would become one of the most notable landmarks for the City to those inside and outside Chelsea.

She wrote that approving the plans would lead to the tangible belief to anyone seeing the new building perched alongside Rt. 1 that Chelsea is absolutely a different place than it once was.

“The building will be home to the largest federal lease award in the history of the New England region,” read the filing. “It is a significant building for any community and will be the focus of much media attention, both during construction and once completed and occupied. It will offer several ‘firsts’ in the City of Chelsea, further supporting the belief and image that Chelsea is changing. Young people in Chelsea, residents, business community, City officials, and state and federal representatives can all take pride in the City of Chelsea for supporting and encouraging this significant project and lease award.”

Among the first detailed in the filing were:

•the first LEED Silver Certified office building

•the tallest building in Chelsea, surpassing the Broadway Glen residential tower on Broadway

•the first office building to offer below grade parking

The vacant lot where the proposed building would sit, a site now commonly used for parking at the MGH Chelsea facility.

The vacant lot where the proposed building would sit, a site now commonly used for parking at the MGH Chelsea facility.

•the first major office construction since 2001

•the first major office building designed and constructed specifically for the federal government

•the first time Chelsea has competed with Boston and succeeded in relocating a major federal agency

Additionally, Simboli stated that the FBI would be bringing a good bit of business to the hotels, restaurants and other businesses next to the proposed building – a building that is described as being a 24-hour a day operation.

“The new influx of employees will support the surrounding retail and banking facilities,” she wrote. “The tenant will attract travelers and guests for the hotels. It will also have a positive impact on the image of the City and encourage new office users, governmental and private, to consider Chesea as an office location.”

The details in the filing are somewhat vague, as the FBI isn’t allowed to file specific floor plans and office layouts due to security concerns. Also, nowhere in the filing does Simboli mention the FBI, though everyone knows the vague “federal tenant” being spoken about is the FBI.

ACS Development will retain ownership and maintenance responsibilities of the proposed building and land, and would enter into a 20-year lease with the FBI.

The building would be about 150-feet tall and will have nine stories – one story on the first floor for parking and eight floors of office layouts. There will also be one level of underground parking. The total building size is 240,000 sq. ft. on 5.1 acres of vacant land. There are 420 parking spaces designated on the plans, far exceeding the number required.

A traffic study showed that there would be an average increase of 1,456 trips per day in the area – with 206 in the morning peak hours and 197 in the afternoon peak hour.

Site improvements are predicted to be extensive and estimates for the work came in at $2.45 million. The most expensive piece of those costs will be to complete the large landscaping plan, which total $285,000.

The construction schedule looks to have design taking one year, site improvements taking 14 months, core construction 16 months and tenant fit-out at 10 months. The total construction period was estimated to take almost three years (32 months), pegging an opening for June 2016.

It was estimated that 400 construction jobs would be created in the project, and Simboli wrote that Chelsea residents are encouraged to apply for those jobs when, and if, the time comes.

The building will be situated closest to Everett Avenue with an entrance at the corner of Maple Street and Everett Avenue. The entrance will have high-security and those not passing muster will be sent packing in a special ‘turn-away’ driveway that exits on Everett Avenue.

That also points to the overall fact that the proposal is for a high-security law enforcement headquarters. While the building might be a point of pride for Chelsea, it won’t be a place where the red carpet is rolled out and tours are offered.

“There are no proposed public use areas designated within the confines of the project site, as such would violate the security requirements of the tenant,” read the filing. “The proposed tenant occupancy of the building and use of the site are not conducive to any portion of the site becoming common or public land.”

The joint ZBA/Planning Board meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Aug. 27th.


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