This month, residential developers AvalonBay held a “topping off” ceremony to mark the completion of their fourth Prudential Center apartment tower, the Avalon Exeter. Though the interior build-out isn’t expected to be finished until mid-2014, the topping off was significant in that it not only marked the Avalon Exeter’s exterior completion, but also the rise of the Prudential Center’s final residential tower.
This development in the heart of the Back Bay started in the 1960s, when the Avalon Exeter’s sister properties — the Fairfield, Boylston and Gloucester — were built as part of the iconic Prudential Building’s redevelopment of what, at the time, was little more than railroad sidings. Unwittingly, the Prudential Center’s development marked the end of an era.
“Before then, the railroad had been an important mode of transport, but by the middle of the last century it was all about the automobile,” says Michael Roberts, vice president of development at AvalonBay Communities Inc. “The Prudential was developed to house cars underneath. It was a case study in urban development. Now, the Back Bay is a live/work/play area. You don’t need to walk far to be where you need to be — or want to be. There’s great public transport and the commuter rail. You can even take the train right from there to New York City.”
Another difference from mid-20th century development is green building practices. The 28-story Avalon Exeter will have, “some kind of LEED certification,” says Roberts. Renovations of its sibling properties brought them up to current standards in terms of energy efficiency, and they have an element that new apartments won’t have.
“In the older buildings, apartment size is larger than what is typically built today,” he adds. “The Exeter will have more amenities. There’s a club room and fitness center. We offer a choice in this development of the brand new and the ’60s vintage.”