Spotlight On: Richard Baumert, Principal, Millennium Partners Boston

Spotlight On: Richard Baumert, Principal, Millennium Partners Boston

3 min read February 2023 — Richard Baumert, principal at Millennium Partners Boston, talked with Invest: about their $1.3 billion development opening in April 2023. The building is unique because of its massive contribution to sustainability. Baumert hopes others will follow their lead and make efforts toward global warming prevention.

What highlights from this past year stand out to you?

All of our energy and focus has been on the Winthrop Center project which is a $1.3 billion development. It’s a mixed-use building with sixty-two floors and is over 800,000 square feet of Global Class A office space and 317 luxury residential homes. This development’s completion has been our entire team’s focus. The residences will open in April and the office portion opening in June. We are very excited for the building. It’s a one-of-a-kind project because of its wellness and sustainability elements that very few have. We are building the largest Passive House office building in the world. Looking at the landscape of buildings within cities this is a great milestone, in terms of development. Hopefully others will follow this type of construction at this scale because of its significant contributing factor against global warming. This is a clear path to carbon neutrality in the built environment. 

Where do you see the demand for office and residential leasing going?

The pandemic had an impact on various parts of all businesses. What has become clear to companies is the sense that collaboration and where it occurs is important. Businesses are trying to find ways to bring their employees back into work and keep them. The amenities, services and features are all factors. Businesses are attracted to our building because of the Passive House and the significant impact it will have on their ability to recruit and retain talent. Residents will also benefit of being part of a Passive House development.  They will live in a building that uses 50% less energy than any other building in the city.  We also put induction cooktops into our units. Everything we’ve done has an eye on the climate. This is where trends are, people interested in convenience, comfort and a sustainable environment are attracted to this full-service sustainable building. 

How do mixed-use buildings contribute to a more cohesive downtown, from your perspective?

Here in Boston, we’ve invested over $3 billion in our neighborhood over the last 20 years. In 2001, our addition of a Ritz-Carlton changed how people perceived an area of Boston formerly known as the “combat zone.” Retail and shopping destinations create a very healthy community. When an area is active 24 hours a day, it creates such a vibrancy and becomes a cohesive place to live. Everything is available to you from right outside your front door. 

What are residents’ expectations in terms of amenities when looking for a new building? 

When you develop and manage your own product you receive a lot of feedback. That allows us to plan for the next development.. In our most recent development in Boston, Millennium Tower, which opened in 2016, residents were working on computers in the residential club. Based on this feedback, we recognized that in our next building, our residents need a comfortable place to work from home.  So, in The Millennium Residences at Winthrop Center, we carved out a spot in 40% of our units that have a flex space that can be used as a true home office. Additionally, our residents have access not only to their residential club but the office club, which is more conducive for residents who work from home. Residents in Winthrop have 60,000 square feet of amenities where you can work and collaborate with others. Another trend we were seeing was the need for pet amenities. So, we opened a wellness center for pets called Club VIP. We got such a great reaction from residents who think of their animals as their children and built a one-of-a-kind 6,500 square feet club for dogs. That reaction resonated very loudly with us and we are grateful to have something that our residents value so much.

Is it mandatory to be a part of the club or is it an option as a resident?

If you’re a resident it is covered in your HOA dues and is part of your living experience. We like to say that it is an extension of your living room. The big difference between our development and others is our affiliation with John Fraser, a Michelin star chef. He manages our food and beverage here at Winthrop. Residents can come down to the owner’s lounge and find a full bar and menu. This is something that is an incredible amenity for our guests.

How do your partnerships, like the one you have with the YMCA, allow you to connect to the community and inspire growth in the region?

The work that the YMCA does is remarkable, and they have touched so many lives. We’ve had a relationship with them for many years, but it grew further during the pandemic. They made sure that the children of first responders were supported and taken care of during those hard times. I was moved by their work and we made a contribution to those efforts to ensure the program was funded. I am now on the general board and facilities committee which allows me to provide my expertise on how to maximize the value of their real estate. They do such important work transforming the neighborhood and building a strong community. This is a relationship I hope will last a very long time.  

What has been the trend of perceived challenges in Boston such as land availability?

There is a lot of uncertainty in the market about what the next steps are. There is a lot of talk about converting some empty retail space into housing. We are definitely in a phase of transition. 

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