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The Secret Lives of Zipcar Drivers

Emily Badger  |

This Zipcar research suggests that what holds the whole thing together is self-interest, not community – and certainly not ideals about the environment, consumerism or sharing. Granted, Bardhi and Eckhardt gathered their findings among young, urban professionals and students in Boston. And so maybe Zipcar drivers in Minnesota feel and behave differently (as might members of other “collaborative consumption” models like AirBnB). But by studying Zipcar’s target demographic, Bardhi and Eckhardt’s research offers a curious glimpse into the minds (and cars) of Millennials we may be misunderstanding.

One of the most telling findings of the paper, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, is that just about everyone Bardhi and Eckhardt interviewed hopes to one day own their own car. In the meantime, they feel no sense of shared ownership over Zipcars. They aren’t particularly connected to each other and don’t want to be. And they view Zipcar itself as the enforcer that keeps other drivers from screwing them over, not as the facilitator of a community.

This is all despite Zipcar’s best efforts to build exactly that, a community. Zipcar organizes local events, hosts message boards, encourages drivers to collectively name vehicles, and to wave at one another as their Mini Moxies and Miss Daisey’s pass each other on the road. {…}

Developer proposes $60 million apartment complex near JFK T stop

Erin Ailworth  |

A Boston developer is looking to build a $60 million apartment complex with 278 units between the JFK/UMass MBTA station and the Shaw’s Supermarket on Morrissey Boulevard — a potential step toward a more extensive development with restaurants, shops, and office space along the sparsely populated roadway.

David Greaney, president of Synergy Investments, said his firm has sent a letter of intent to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, outlining its plans for the nearly 93,000 square-foot-property. Renderings show a two-building, five-and-a-half-story complex with a club room, gym, parking garage and lots, and courtyard. {…}

As Ridership Increases so Does the Need for Retail

By RJ Long, TRA Project Manger

MBTA ridership hit an all-time record of 400 million trips this past fiscal year. The ULI Boston report, Hub and Spoke, predicts that ridership could grow to upwards of 500 million trips by 2021. Therefore the MBTA is planning for new stations, new trains and new ways to fund its operations. One source in particular, its retail portfolio, serves as an amenity to the riders and has growth potential. Everything from your morning coffee to your evening movie rental is only made more convenient when adding it to your commute. So what’s happening to help add more options in more places? A lot.

Over the past year the MBTA has restructured how it entertains offers from businesses, it has streamlined its public bid process with simpler & clearer documents, and it has begun utilizing modern leases with requirements similar to that of major malls.

The results: a kiosk program which will economically enhance dozens of smaller locations, a fixed retail program which is slated to overhaul fifteen existing locations system-wide, and the establishment of projects to develop underutilized real estate. While these programs and projects will offer a wide variety of benefits, none will have an impact quite like the revitalization of Back Bay Station.

After researching the opportunities at Back Bay Station a new master plan was implemented to create a concept similar to the MBTA’s best stations, South Station and North Station. The first items on the agenda are to make HVAC, lighting and beautification improvements to the commuter rail lobby. Upon completion, the Station will be ready for the retail improvements. The main concourse retail operations will be revamped and upwards of six “South Station style” kiosks will be added. This, in addition to the strategically positioned tables and chairs, will create a floor plan which can accommodate roughly 33,500 people coming and going. Furthermore, this layout provides a value added resource to both the retails and the riders. Up next, a portion of the underutilized sidewalk under the Dartmouth Street roof overhang will be repurposed as rentable square feet. This will be accomplished as individual businesses build out their space and their unique requirements are addressed. Overall, this transformation will not only create an atmosphere where retailers can succeed and the riders feel comfortable but it will raise the MBTA’s bottom line.

There is a new star coming to Fenway. TOD becomes a neighbor

By: Francis DeCoste, TRA Chief Operating Officer

As spring emerges, Bostonians usually shift their attention on all the action going at Fenway. Although this year, with the performance of the home town team being less than stellar, a new star in the Fenway may steal the spotlight. At a recent Biznow gathering, developer John Rosenthal discussed plans for the start of construction of the 1.3 million square transit oriented development called the Fenway Center.

The project, located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, is a 4.5 acre assemblage which includes air rights over the Massachusetts Turnpike as well as ground up development on the surface parking lots between the Beacon Street and Brookline Avenue bridges. The development plan includes approximately 500 residences, offices, and a retail shopping center featuring a local grocery store.

Transportation is a major amenity for the Fenway Center. Located adjacent to the MBTA Yawkey Commuter Station, the MBTA Kenmore Square and Fenway Green Line Stations are just a block away. A component of the development includes what will be one of the largest private solar power plant in Massachusetts, which will provide a significant portion of the projects electricity and all the power needs of the new commuter rail station. Yawkey Station will become the first zero net energy commuter rail stations in the state. In addition, the Fenway Center will also feature over 30,000 SF of parks and green space, bicycle storage and share station, community space and a daycare center.

It has been a long time coming for the Fenway Center. But just like the Red Sox, good things are always worth the wait. Construction of the Fenway Center is expected to begin in mid 2012.

Boston officials approve Filene’s project

After a four-year work stoppage, the star-crossed Filene’s redevelopment is finally poised to move forward.

Boston regulators Thursday approved construction of a 625-foot residential tower, and the restoration of the original Filene’s building into offices and stores. The $620 million project also includes the renovation of a neighboring park that will add a new MBTA station entrance and an outdoor amphitheater.

Once complete, the Downtown Crossing project will become a new focal point for that section of the city, where boarded-up structures will be replaced with new shops and restaurants.

No tenants have been named, but developer Millennium Partners is planning to move forward with construction by the middle of next year. The company’s tower is taller and more slender than an earlier version proposed for the site. At a hearing at City Hall on Thursday, numerous supporters lined up to speak in favor of the project; no one spoke up to object. {…}

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