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Breaking Barriers: Women's Collaboration & Resilience in 111 Harbor Way

Hannah Belter, Avison Young | Toronto CREW

Amy Prange, Vice President of Development, WS Development, joined CREW Boston in 2011, where she would later come to appreciate the value of the connections forged over the next decade. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of multiple CREW members from different industries, the $435 million (USD) 111 Harbor Way project in Boston, Massachusetts was completed, with $250 million allocated solely for core and shell development. 

The project encompasses 50,000 sq. ft. of retail space, roughly 430,000 sq. ft. of office space, and nearly an acre of public open space, now known as Harbor Way and The Rocks. Prange has been involved in every stage of the project since its inception, spearheading engagement with professionals and assembling a team of the most innovative, forward-thinking minds to successfully pull it off.  

For this task, Prange deferred to the professionals she knew from CREW, many of whom she had initially connected with at various networking events, including Leslie Doyle, Jocelyn Goglia from WS Development, Karen O’Malley, Yareni Sanchez from Goulston & Storrs, Lizetta Fennessy from Haley & Aldrich, and Judy Nitsch from Nitsch Engineering, to bring diverse expertise to the table. 

The project commenced in 2017 with permitting and zoning procedures, and construction of the core and shell began in December 2018, with assistance from Haley & Aldrich. The entitlement process leading up to construction required support from WS Development’s collaborators at Goulston. With a $435 million construction loan overseen by Jill Sparks from JLL, and Amazon as an anchor tenant, the project created more than 2,000 jobs by April 2022, providing a significant boost to Boston’s economy. 

Sustainability was a cornerstone of the project, achieving a 19% reduction in building energy use and a 22% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the Base Case. The project also prioritized gender inclusion, allocating approximately $5.9 million in trade wages to women, including $2.5 million going to female Boston residents. It also directed payments totaling approximately $3.7 million to minority- and women-owned businesses. 

Despite its success, the project faced unprecedented challenges. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston mandated an eight-week construction shutdown, delaying the project schedule by three months. Overcoming this hurdle while ensuring the safety of partners, navigating a disrupted supply chain, and adapting to rapidly changing schedules demanded exceptional teamwork. 

As Microsoft Teams became the primary mode of communication, the team rallied together, offering support in unforeseen ways as the teams’ personal lives intertwined with the project as many colleagues’ children and pets became honorary project associates. The pandemic pushed the team to come together and provide support in ways they didn’t know were possible. 

The 111 Harbor Way project stands as a testament to perseverance and teamwork. The collective effort of courageous women defied the odds, navigating uncertainties to achieve the extraordinary.  

“I am honored to say I’m as proud of the project itself as I am of the team that guided it through victories and hardships well beyond what we could have imagined," Prange said. "The stress was palpable throughout all aspects of the project site and team and yet, we persisted, working through each day’s difficulties, together. I will be forever grateful to this group of women for that.”

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