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Chinese investor could kick-start stalled South Station tower

2016-05-12

(Boston Globe)A big Chinese real estate firm could help kick-start a long-stalled tower at South Station.

An arm of Gemdale Properties, which is one of the largest builders in China, is investing in Hines’s proposed 677-foot condo and office building at the city’s busiest train station, according to documents filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

It would also be the latest big investment in Boston real estate by major Chinese investors, who have financed several development projects in the past year.Financial terms of the deal were not available, but an influx of cash could help Houston-based Hines launch work on the tower — a quarter-century in the planning — before its development deal with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation expires next spring.

A Hines spokeswoman and a spokeswoman for Gemdale’s US affiliate, based in Los Angeles, had no comment.

Hines has requested that the BRA board approve the addition of Gemdale Properties to its team. The matter is scheduled for Thursday’s board meeting.

Gemdale Corp., which is traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is a major developer in China. It says it built more than 30,000 condominiums there in 2013 alone. Last year, it launched a US office and has invested in large projects in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Chinese capital has flowed into Boston in the last year or so, with a pair of large insurance companies partnering with Tishman Speyer on its development of office and condominium buildings at Pier Four on the South Boston Waterfront and a large Chinese home builder partnering with Samuels Corp. on its Pierce Boston condo tower in the Fenway.

Hines, which built 500 Boylston and 222 Berkeley in the Back Bay, among other Boston-area projects, would continue to manage the South Station project.

Plans for the 49-story tower may change, too, to include more housing and less office space, people familiar with the project said.

 

Hines has been meeting with MassDOT and the BRA in recent weeks to hash out details of the plan, which will need approval from both agencies.

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