April 05, 2019 • By Jessie Yount
How do you recreate a nine-acre development site in downtown Boston that will both draw a profit and foster a sense of community among locals and visitors alike?
That’s exactly the challenge that MBA ‘20 candidates Dylan Barreira, Andy Brown, Chris Karacic and Cami Chou from the UCI Paul Merage School of Business tackled for the Harvard-MIT Real Estate Case Competition 2019.
The team is the first from the Merage School to advance to the semi-final round of the elite, international competition. The team presented their project in Cambridge last month, thanks in large part to a sponsorship from the Center for Real Estate, which is housed at the Merage School.
Barreira, Brown and Karacic, brought diverse backgrounds in geomatics engineering, finance and law, respectively, to divide and conquer.
“We were friends first, but it really worked out. We realized that we all had an interest in real estate development,” Karacic said. “And our professional backgrounds brought a balance to the work.”
After concluding that current residents were not particularly fond of the barren concrete plaza and Brutalist-style building that currently make up the site, the Merage School team decided their concept would demolish it and start afresh.
Their proposal features office space, retail shops and a residential apartment building. By creating a mixed-use development site, the team was able to offset the cost of low-income housing with revenue-generating businesses and a hotel with a botanical garden.
“The center of our project is a pavilion with a glass canopy, which will be filled with several hundred heat lamps,” team lead Barreria said. “It’s ideal for Boston, since their athletic teams are pretty successful and they can use it to host championship parades.”
The team drew on elements from their own hometowns for creative inspiration. The outdoor pavilion, which was influenced by the Power & Lights District in Brown’s hometown of Kansas, will feature restaurants and bars, and it can be used as a concert venue or sports viewing arena for a crowd of up to 10,000.
And the 30-foot tall fountain with a projection screen was influenced by Crown Fountain in Chicago, where Karacic grew up. The fountain will double as an ice skating rink during the wintertime.
“Through all of this, our goal has been to make every space multi-functional,” Brown said. “We wanted the site to be usable during all four seasons, as well as accessible to both residents and tourists.”
The team did decide, however, to keep The T subway station on site, which will drive traffic through the new community center in downtown Boston.