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Offices on the Rise in the Seaport District


          Shovels were ceremoniously lifted yesterday to mark construction already under way on the first office tower in Seaport Square, one of the largest mixed-used, master plan developments in the nation in one of the fastest growing areas of the city.
            The start of the $126 million, 17-story building -- just nine months after Skanska USA Commercial Development bought the former parking lot site -- is emblematic of the tremendous momentum behind Seaport District growth, said Executive Vice President Shawn Hurley. "(It's) quickly becoming recognized as one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the United States," he said.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, which will occupy 75 percent of the tower, will relocate 3,000 employees from the Financial District.
            The tower is the first private sector, revenue-generating project at Seaport Square, a 23-acre, 6.5-million-square-foot development that will replace 3,700 parking spots with residential, retail, office, hotel and other uses. Master developers Boston Global Investors and Morgan Stanley estimate total investment will hit $3.5 billion.
            PricewaterhouseCooper's pending move solidifies the district's status as a must-look area for office space, said David Begelfer, CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts, a commercial real estate development trade group. The accounting giant will join firms such as Vertex, which will relocate from Cambridge with 1,300 workers into an $800 million, Fan Pier headquarters, State Street Corp. and the Goodwin Procter law firm.
            "This seals the deal for putting the Seaport permanently on the map for site searchers," Begelfer said. "Before Vertex ... the bosses wouldn't say, 'Well, why didn't you look there?' Now, you've got to look there."
The Seaport District has been undergoing a wave of development, with many other projects in the pipeline outside of Seaport Square, where Skanska and Twining Properties also are close to announcing the start of the 346-apartment Watermark Seaport. Across the street, construction has started on 100 Pier 4, a 21-story tower with 369 apartments.
            Seaport Square alone will add 1.3 million square feet of upscale retail, dining and entertainment options -- about the same size as the Burlington Mall.
"Our goal is to create a true shopping district," said Michael McNaughton, senior vice president of WS Development, Seaport Square's retail developer. "With all of the new office space and ... residential and hotel amenities being brought to the area, there are basic retail goods and services that are not currently available. Our goal is to deliver a full spectrum of retail -- from dining and fashion (to) general necessities."
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