Ground Broken on 699-Foot Boston Tower

Today, you’d call the corner of Belvidere and Dalton Streets in Boston’s Back Bay the back side of the Prudential Center and Christian Science Mother Church complex. But in two and a half to three years, it’s set to be home to the tallest building erected in the city in four decades.

Wednesday night, inside a heated tent with a phalanx of searchlights outside raking the Hub skyline, leaders of the Four Seasons hotel chain, developer Richard Friedman of Carpenter & Co., Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish gathered with hundreds to ceremonially break ground on the $750 million project. It is to be a 61-story tower, 699 feet high, making it the third biggest tower in Boston after the John Hancock (790 feet) and Prudential (744 feet). A 211-room Four Seasons Hotel will occupy the first 24 stories, and 180 condominiums the rest.

"This is a landmark building for the skyline of Boston, really quite a game changer for the city of Boston," Friedman, also renowned for developing the Charles Hotel complex in Harvard Square, said in an interview before the event.

Harry Cobb, who designed the 60-story Hancock Tower and is now 88, is also the lead architect of the One Dalton tower, a kind of triangular prism with rounded corners. Walsh joked at the groundbreaking that he hopes Cobb will get to move in to the new building, and he’s already guaranteed Cobb he’ll get the 30 percent senior-citizen discount offered by the Boston Water and Sewer Commission for his condo.

It’s unusual for a building this tall to actually make its way through city and civic approval to construction. Project and city officials said it helped that the location became a fallback compromise after the Christian Science church proposed a big tower on the corner of its property near Symphony Hall. By sliding the tower over the Prudential/Sheraton side, where it becomes an extension of the city’s "high spine" of towers stretching from the Financial District to 500 Boylston, the old and new Hancock Towers, and Prudential Center, the church and its development partners won support from many local residents and political leaders who believe it will add positive and welcomed density to that already-built-up part of the Back Bay.

Friedman said he is optimistic the nearly 700-foot tower will also greatly improve street and sidewalk life on the south end of the Prudential Center complex. "This will be a real pedestrian environment," Friedman said. "You can walk across the street to to the Prudential Center or to Copley Place. This will be a vibrant addition to the Back Bay neighborhood."

Notably, about 80 percent of the project’s $750 million cost is coming from non-U.S. international investors, suggesting strong foreign confidence in Boston’s economy and realty market. Suffolk Construction CEO Fish, whose company is building the tower, is also leading the effort to bring a 2024 summer Olympic Games to Boston.

With videographer Daniel J. Ferrigan 

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