The HYM Investment Group – Bulfinch Crossing
The HYM Investment Group aims to transform downtown Boston with its latest project, Bulfinch Crossing.
By Bianca Herron
The HYM Investment Group (HYM) is a real estate development company that specializes in large, complicated mixed-use urban projects. For more than 35 years, the principals of the Boston-based company have completed projects in Boston, Cambridge, and its metropolitan suburbs. Today, HYM has over 9 million square feet of real estate under development.
Founder and Managing Partner Thomas N. O’Brien, who started the company with Doug Manz and Paul Crisalli, says the success of HYM starts with its team-oriented culture.
“We have 24 employees and everything we do is focused upon communicating well with one another,” he explains. “We also have to be good to one another, be open to new ideas and operate as a strong team. All these things have really made it possible for us to not only work on the number of transactions that we do, but also handle the complicated nature of those transactions.”
Not only does HYM’s communication play an integral role with its employees, it is also critical for its subcontractor relationships. “Our absolute expectation is that people will communicate with us truthfully and forthrightly at all times,” O’Brien says. “That includes everyone from the architects to general contractors to subcontractors and every professional we contract with.
“Our view is that everyone needs to be prepared and to listen, even if someone is telling you something you may or may not want to hear,” he adds.
This heightened level of communication helps to maintain quality control with projects as well. “For us, our ultimate customers are our investors and we must be perfect for them all the time,” O’Brien says. “They expect us to manage projects well and deliver buildings on schedule and on budget.”
HYM’s investors are typically large pension funds or life insurance companies. O’Brien notes that the company has been “fortunate” to work in Boston and Cambridge because they are both strong markets. “These are attractive places to invest capital,” he says. “For that reason, we have been able to establish a reputation as a company that completes projects efficiently and effectively. In turn, we have a track record of attracting really great investors.”
Ultimately, the No. 1 goal of the company is to consistently demonstrate to its investors that HYM is a true partner in the success of its projects and works extremely diligently to ensure they are completed the best way possible. “We want our investors to know that we are a predictable group of people who will deliver projects effectively for them,” O’Brien says.
HYM’s latest project is Bulfinch Crossing. In partnership with National Real Estate Advisors, the company is tasked with redeveloping the Government Center Garage into a six-building 2.9 million square foot mixed-used project. Located in downtown Boston, the project is one of the largest mixed-use projects ever permitted in the city of Boston.
Designed by CBT Architects and Pelli Clark Pelli, Bulfinch Crossing will include a 45-story luxury residential high-rise, 43-story office tower, 28-story luxury residential high-rise, hotel and condominiums, a boutique office and an iconic retail building.
When completed, Bulfinch Crossing will consist of more than 800 residential units, 200 hotel rooms, more than 82,000 square feet of retail space and 1.15 million square feet of office space.
“This project will be completed in phases and we have already started the first one,” O’Brien says. “We’ve started demolition on the southwest corner of the garage where the first residential tower will go. Vertical construction will start in September, and when finished in spring of 2020, it will feature 368 rental units and 55 condominium units.”
The tower will be entirely constructed using concrete, which is unusual for Boston because typical projects in the city use steel for residential buildings, according to O’Brien. “A concrete building is more efficient than a steel building,” he says. “For example, its structure has better sound quality between floors.”
The next part of Bulfinch Crossing is the 43-story office building, which may start sometime within the next 24 months, O’Brien notes. “On that schedule, this will be delivered sometime in late 2021 or 2022,” he says. “The remaining buildings have varied timelines for construction and completion.”
Bulfinch Crossing is more than a mixed-use project, O’Brien notes, because the more than $2 billion project will bring daylight to the city’s Congress Street for the first time in 50 years.
The Government Center Garage was built in the 1960s and runs across five acres in the middle of downtown Boston. The garage is an eyesore, O’Brien notes, and residents are anxious for it to be demolished.
“This garage is one of the ugliest buildings in the city,” he says. “There’s a piece of it that covers Congress Street, which will be demolished. We will then construct three buildings – the hotel and condo building, and the office and retail buildings – on the eastern side of Congress Street. The last residential building will then be built on the west side of Congress Street to wrap the remainder of the garage.”
Essentially, the remaining garage will no longer be visible, as it will be enclosed within the three buildings. “We’re in the midst of investing a significant amount of capital in upgrading the garage,” O’Brien says. “Once completed, this project will totally transform downtown Boston.”
O’Brien notes that because the garage is an eyesore, it affects pedestrian movement, as well as how people see downtown Boston. “The existing garage is not something that presents this part of the city in a good light,” he explains. “Bulfinch Crossing will change the way people feel about this part of town. Today people walk through this area to get somewhere else. In the future, people will walk to this area and it will become a destination rather than a pass-through.”
Despite HYM’s grand vision for the project, O’Brien notes that there have been a few challenges since starting the demolition process. “Permitting a project like this in Boston is always a challenge,” he says. “There is also complex logistical sequencing required for continuing to operate a garage while we’re building, and there’s a significant engineering challenge around partially demolishing a garage while its still in occupancy.”
Nevertheless, HYM is confident about completing the large, complicated project. “I think that’s why we all enjoy this business because each project is a puzzle, and it’s always incredibly satisfying to solve the puzzle,” O’Brien concludes. “We are working hard to move at a good pace. And again, having a team-oriented culture and emphasizing good communication is essential to our success.”