If a seven-space parking lot on the fringes of the North End doesn’t sound like a hotel development site, then you haven’t been paying close attention to Boston’s seemingly inexhaustible commercial real estate boom.
The nondescript corner parcel at 88 North Washington St. has barely enough space for a Dunkin’ Donuts, let alone a 74-room hotel. But the new rules of development in Boston put the property in play for a lodging facility rising 15 stories, subject to approval of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Developer LIMAC LLC is dispensing with full-service amenities such as a restaurant and bar, with only a small café on the mezzanine level. Five or six guest rooms would be built on floors three through 15, each ranging from 200 to 230 square feet.
The snug guest quarters take a cue from companies such as London-based Yotel, which is building a microhotel in the Seaport District that gives guests as little as 176 square feet in which to rattle around. With vibrant city neighborhoods to explore, the theory goes, energetic Millennial guests aren’t likely to spend much time in their rooms anyway.
Lifting a page from the smartgrowth playbook, LIMAC doesn’t plan any on-site parking for those guests, citing ample public transit options including the nearby Haymarket bus terminal and North Station rail hub. That limits the building to a modest 40,000 square feet.
In its BRA filing, developer LIMAC LLC lists Tom MacKay, owner of Wilmington-based MacKay Construction Services, as proponent. LIMAC acquired the property in mid-March for $1, according to Suffolk County Registry of Deeds records. The previous owner, Peter Limone, found a steady source of business over the years from sports fans looking for game-night parking. Limone had owned the property since 1989, back when Larry Bird and Cam Neely were still lacing them up at the old Boston Garden.
If Limone’s name rings a bell, that’s because the 73-year-old Medford resident spent 33 years in prison after his wrongful conviction for the 1965 murder of an alleged Chelsea boxer-turned-hoodlum named Teddy Deegan. Limone was freed in 1993 after a federal judge ruled that FBI agents hid exculpatory evidence in the case to protect its informants. Limone pocketed a $26 million settlement.
In that era, the gritty blocks between the North End, Government Center and West End known as the Bulfinch Triangle had little appeal to real estate investors. Today, sandwiched between billion-dollar redevelopment projects at North Station and Government Center garage, the neighborhood has some of Boston’s fastest-rising commercial rents and no parcel is too small to escape the interest of creative developers – not even a seven-space parking lot.