The Back Bay submarket appeals to a wide variety of firms for a number of reasons. Access to transportation, an educated work force, and a large concentration of employers in a small area all contribute to this submarket’s popularity among Boston office space users.

Another advantage to leasing office space in Back Bay is recognition and prestige. Back Bay is home to numerous Boston landmarks, including the Prudential Center, world-famous Newbury Street, the Hancock Tower, and the Boston Public Library. Back Bay is characterized by historic brownstones and is considered one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Boston.

Two important additions coming to the Back Bay will transform the city of Boston for years to come. Plans for the new Four Seasons hotel are underway and the structure will be the third tallest building in the city, making it a landmark building and a prominent feature in the Boston city skyline. In addition, a new structure at 888 Boylston Street is being referred to as the final piece of the Prudential Center. The structure will house the third ‘Eataly’ location in the United States, a mecca for Italian food and culture, as well as over 280,000 square feet of office space. 

Useful Note: The streets intersecting with Boylston run alphabetically east to west, starting with Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, and Hereford. This makes navigating the area particularly easy.

232 Office Buildings in Back Bay

17,444,665 square feet of Office Space

37 Class A office buildings, totaling 13,600,574 SF

96 Class B office buildings, totaling 2,541,931 SF

99 Class C office buildings, totaling 1,302,160 SF

Accounts for 18% of Boston jobs
•    Houses 50% of the city’s hotels
•    Home to 26,000 residents
•    Offers exceptional shopping and dining, luxury and mid-priced hotels, first class commercial office space, as well as a wealth of prominent medical, educational, and cultural institutions

Back Bay is aptly named in that it was literally once a bay. The area took twenty-five years to fill in. In the 1820′s, The Roxbury and Boston Mill Company built a dam across the Back Bay to generate power for its mills. This dam stretched from the Boston Common to Brookline. The mill companies also built railroad lines across the Back Bay, cutting off the basin’s ability to flush out waste from the City of Boston. Beginning in 1857, the city began to fill in the area and Commonwealth Avenue was born. The new neighborhood was planned as a fashionable residential district lined with three and four story Victorian brownstones.

By 1892, present-day Back Bay was filled in. This new area soon became Boston’s premier arts and culture center.

Back Bay is home to some of the nicest luxury hotels in Boston. These include:

  • The Fairmont Copley Plaza (138 Saint James Ave, Boston, MA 02116)
  • Mandarin Oriental, Boston (776 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116)
  • Taj Boston (15 Arlington Street, Boston, MA, 02116)
  • The Lenox Hotel (61 Exeter Street, Boston, MA 02116)
  • Charlesmark Hotel (655 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, 02116)
  • The Colonnade Hotel Back Bay (120 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA, 02116)
  • Westin Copley Place (10 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA, 02116)

Accessibility and public transportation make Back Bay one of the most desirable business locations in Boston. Back Bay provides multiple public transportation access points, including:

Back Bay Station
•    Orange Line
•    Commuter rail
•    Amtrack

Copley Station
•    Green Line

Arlington Station
•    Green Line

Hynes Convention Center
•    Green Line

Boston’s Back Bay is also readily accessible via the Mass Pike, Storrow Drive, Commonwealth Avenue, and Massachusetts Avenue. While on street parking is rarely obtainable, there are numerous garages in the area. Monthly rates range from roughly $250-435, with daily rates between $10 and $35. Some options in the area include:

•    Boston Common Garage
•    The Prudential Center Garage
•    Patriot Haviland Street Garage (6 Hemenway Street, between Haviland and Boylston)
•    LAZ Dartmouth Street Garage (126 Dartmouth Street, between Columbus Avenue and Stuart Street)

Metered parking is also available along Newbury Street and Boylston Street, but can be difficult to secure during the day.

The Boston Public Library – The first publically supported municipal library in the United States, as well as the first library to allow users to bring books home with them. The BPL is home to over 6.1 million books, making it one of the largest libraries in the country.

Newbury Street – Newbury Street is known as a world-famous shopping destination, stretching from the Boston Public Garden to Massachusetts Avenue. Stores along Newbury Street range from mid-priced to high fashion, with chains existing alongside local boutiques. These shops are located in lovely historic 19th century brownstones. Newbury Street is often referred to as the “Rodeo Drive of the East”

The Prudential Tower – This 52-story building is the second tallest in Boston, and is home to a 495,229 square foot shopping center. Above the mall portion sits office space. Breathtaking city views can be found on the 50th floor observatory

Old South Church – A gothic revival style church designed by Charles Amos Cummings and Willard T Sears, completed in 1873.

John Hancock Tower – Boston’s tallest building, with 60 floors and 790 feet tall.

Back Bay is an officially-recognized neighborhood of Boston, whose boundaries are defined as follows:
•    Charles River (North)
•    Arlington Street to Park Square (East)
•    Columbus Avenue to the New York, New Haven, Hartford right-of-way
•    Huntington Avenue, Dalton Street, and the Mass Pike (South)
•    Charlesgate East (West)

Back Bay Office Rents

Boston’s Back Bay office market is unique in the mix of buildings that make up the 17 million square foot market. Newbury Street and Boylston Street represent that juxtaposition most clearly. Modern high-rise office towers, mid-rise modern office buildings and turn of the century smaller Class B buildings line Boylston Street. Larger floor plates, garage parking, views, and amenities like staffed lobbies, fitness centers and food service set buildings apart. Newbury Street is predominately brownstones; however, these buildings are differentiated by location on the street (block), sunny vs. shady side, renovation quality, parking and rooftop amenities.

The achieved starting rents depicted are impacted by these factors. Companies seek different experiences and place varying value on those experiences. A large financial firm would pay top dollar to be on the highest floor of the newest office tower while a small hedge fund would pay the same $/SF to occupy a fully restored Newbury St. brownstone with a roof deck and in-building garage on the corner of Newbury and Berkeley. A growing technology startup would seek value in the Back Bay by choosing a lower floor in an office tower or mid-rise building while also considering an older Newbury Street building that has character and closer to Mass Ave. Pricing for both options will be comparable and the company has to weight the value of the character on Newbury St. versus the efficiency of a modern building on Boylston St.