New 250,000-s.f. Building to Be Constructed in Quincy, Mass., Office Park

Between 2,500 and 3,000 people already work at Crown Colony Office Park in Quincy; Flatley Co. is planning to add a 250,000-square foot building to the complex for about 1,000 more workers. A proposal to add a new building and about 1,000 jobs to Crown Colony Office Park in Quincy won't create more traffic congestion, the developer and government officials say. Overall, they expect less congestion on city streets.

But the whole plan depends on three ramps being built to speed drivers out of the office park to nearby expressways.

Flatley Co. and other businesses are paying $2 million to design ramps to move cars directly from the expanding office, commercial, hotel, and residential complex -- and from a major local thoroughfare, Burgin Parkway -- to the Southeast Expressway, Interstate 93, and routes 3 and 128, bypassing jammed intersections.

"There were some limitations when the Crown Colony Office Park was proposed," said Quincy Mayor William J. Phelan. "In order to expand further, it would require this on-ramp" project.

The new 250,000-square-foot building, said Thomas J. Flatley, a major developer at the office park, could be occupied by Boston Financial Data Services, an affiliate of State Street Corp. that already has a big presence at Crown Colony, which has more than two dozen buildings. The new facility might become the company's headquarters.

Crown Colony is located at the so-called Braintree split, where Route 3 meets I-93.

"It's very much needed," Flatley said of the new ramps, which could be completed in two years and would allow construction on the new building to proceed. "It would keep them [Boston Financial] here. Otherwise they're going to be looking outside."

The expenditure of private money on public works -- Flatley put up $1 million and encouraged The Home Depot and other businesses to join together to match his amount -- is a growing reality, said Daniel A. Grabauskas, secretary of the Executive Office of Transportation and Construction.

Traditionally, businesses have paid for small improvements to public roadways, such as curb cuts. "But when we do big projects, some of these companies expect they're just going to get it for free, and Mass. Highway will pony up," he said.

In this case, much of the cost, for the design, won't be paid with tax dollars. Grabauskas said he believes the construction will be eligible for 80 percent federal funding, which means the state will end up with highway improvements worth almost $20 million but will spend less than $4 million. The design for the ramps -- mainly, they will ease the flow of traffic out of the complex -- is about 75 percent complete. Construction will start either next summer or in 2006, Grabauskas said.

The plan includes:
An elevated ramp from Burgin Parkway onto I-93 north and south and Route 3 south, bypassing the overtaxed intersection of Burgin and Centre Street.

An extension of Congress Street leading from Crown Colony Drive to I-93 northbound, and west toward Dedham.

A new ramp from Crown Colony Drive to Route 3 southbound, eliminating the need for employees exiting the office park to sit at a traffic signal on Centre Street.

"They've made a superb case why this is a great investment for the state," said Grabauskas, "but they didn't stop there. The folks in the business community, they're right up front -- they said, 'We're going to benefit,' and they've paid for the design work."

A Boston Financial spokesperson, Hannah Grove, cautioned that the company's expansion is only a possibility. But, she said, "The ramp is essential to our existing infrastructure and the office park as a whole."

Flatley said the improvement will mean more to Quincy's downtown than to Crown Colony, because of the expected positive effect on Burgin Parkway. "That parkway is the spine of Quincy," he said. "Take a look at that some morning between 8 and 9 o'clock, and you'll see the backup right to the expressway."

Crown Colony businesses employ 2,500 to 3,000 people, and the buildings are 90 percent occupied, Flatley said. Besides Boston Financial and Flatley's Boston Marriott Quincy hotel, other occupants include Arbella Insurance Group, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and State Street Corp.

Even without 1,000 more employees, relief "was needed five years ago," Flatley said.

Mayor Phelan noted that there is another large plot adjacent to one of the new ramps "that would be ripe for development" if traffic snarls can be eased.

The MBTA's Quincy Adams Station is on Burgin Parkway near the site for one of the new ramps, meaning that development would be less dependent on highways and therefore fits in with the Romney administration's policy of locating commerce and housing near public transit.

"In terms of 'smart growth'," Phelan said, "it's a perfect match."