The chain shops in Marketplace Center often are mistakenly thought to be part of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace next door. But if Marketplace Center’s owners have their way, the property will get a distinct look that should set the place apart visually from its historic and better-known neighbor.
New York-based Gazit Horizons, a division of Israeli property investment firm Gazit Globe, filed plans with the Boston Planning & Development Agency on Tuesday to renovate Marketplace Center, with a project that will add seven floors of offices on top of the existing three-story complex.
Marketplace Center today consists of two buildings: a three-story North Building with stores and offices, and a two-story South Building, connected by a steel canopy and a pedestrian bridge. There’s about 52,000 square feet of retail space — including Gap and Banana Republic stores — and nearly 10,000 square feet of offices. Gazit’s $100 million renovation would expand the building significantly, adding seven new stories to the North Building and filling in canopies at the ground level. Once it’s complete, the redone Marketplace Center will feature 145,500 square feet of offices, with about 46,000 square feet of stores.
It will also open up the street on the Rose Kennedy Greenway side of the buildings, said Gazit Horizons chief executive Jeff Mooallem. The complex was originally designed in the 1980s to wall off the Faneuil Hall area from what was then the Central Artery — the elevated highway that was replaced with the Greenway as part of the Big Dig. When complete, the project will have store entrances on the Greenway side, and perhaps an office entrance.
“The property, like many properties built in that era, turns its back on the Greenway,” Mooallem said. “Now that we have this beautiful linear park, over the last 10 years you’re seeing buildings … put their front door on the Greenway instead of their back door.”
About 85 percent of the property is currently occupied. Mooallem said all tenants are on short-term leases, none longer than three years, though he would like as many as possible to remain in the revamped Marketplace Center.
Gazit owns a handful of other properties in Boston and Cambridge, including in Harvard Square, the Back Bay, and Downtown Crossing. The company acquired Marketplace Center in 2019 with an eye toward repurposing it. Meanwhile, the owners of the adjacent Dock Square garage pursued similar redevelopment plans, and late last year the BPDA approved construction of more than 200 condos on top of the garage.
“We really believe in this area,” Mooallem said. “This is a very important part of the city. We did this building, in part, because we knew it needed to be improved upon.”
Because of its proximity and similarity to the buildings in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, many people often assume that Marketplace Center is part of that complex. But they are separately owned and managed. The managers of the two neighboring properties sometimes work together, such as with the Faneuil Hall Marketplace’s website. However, their joint annual Christmas tree and holiday light celebration did not take place this year.
Mooallem said he would like to bring back the giant tree, which usually sits on the Marketplace Center property, next year.
“One of the things our project aims to do is invest in a tourism infrastructure in that location that is a little tired now,” Mooallem said. “It’s such an important location. We’re trying to build a project where things like tree lightings would be an absolute no brainer in that location because [they’re] going to generate so much traffic.”