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New Balance Sidesteps Boston Government, Builds Its Own Train Station

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

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New Balance didn't wait around for the Boston government to provide more public transportation options to serve its massive new headquarters project. The Atlantic reports that the sneaker and athletic wear company decided to finance a new commuter rail station all by itself. The Boston Landing station broke ground today, and New Balance will pay for the cost of building the station ($14 to $16 million) and all the maintenance costs for at least the first decade the station is open.

Public-private partnerships like this can be controversial, but in Boston, the response from the community to a New Balance-funded train station has been largely positive. That might be due to Boston's cash-strapped public transportation system. "The MBTA can barely manage what they have—building new stuff is almost impossible," said Ali Carter, the executive director of neighborhood-revitalization group Brighton Main Streets. "I couldn’t imagine having a better multinational corporation to be in your backyard," she said of New Balance.

As for New Balance's new $500 million development project, it's so ambitious you can see why it would need its own train station. There's going to be a boutique hotel, an apartment complex, track and field facilities, an office building, an ice skating rink, 80,000 square feet of retail including a New Balance experience store, and a 225,000-square-foot building that "slightly resembles a hightop sneaker."

The development and new public transportation option is meant to create a Google-like campus that appeals to both New Balance employees and the community at large. "This is a real-estate deal but not a real-estate deal," New Balance spokeperson Matt LeBretton told The Atlantic. "It's about giving back to the community. It's about attracting and keeping a workforce. But really becoming more embedded and doing more in and around our neighborhood."