Developer O’Brien: We need offices, cities

One of Boston’s top developers, a self-described half-glass-full guy, says he remains bullish on commercial real estate despite the rise of remote work during the coronavirus pandemic.

 Tom O’Brien, the founding partner and managing director of the HYM Investment Group, has two big projects under development – a massive mixed-use complex at the site of Suffolk Downs in East Boston and a mixed-use project called Bulfinch Crossing at the former Government Center garage. Combined, the two projects call for 6.35 million square feet of office space.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

 O’Brien acknowledges the nature of office work has changed during COVID, but he doesn’t think the change will affect commercial real estate as much as some people think.

 “I’m not part of the hand-wringing crowd that says there’s going to be a drastic reduction in office,” O’Brien said on The Codcast. “I do think that the way people work will change, that’s for sure. It will be more flexible. But we still fundamentally need offices; we need cities because those are the places where people gather. That’s where they collaborate. That’s where they produce good ideas. That’s where we’re able to converse with one another. That’s still the future of cities and office.”