The Back Bay Association Holds its 88th Annual Meeting at Four Seasons

May 24, 2011

The Back Bay Association (BBA) held its 88th Annual Meeting at the Four Seasons Boston Hotel on Monday May 9.  Members of the Association gathered to revisit the successes of both the organization and neighborhood.

BBA President Meg Mainzer-Cohen welcomed members to the event and introduced Chairman (General Manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Boston), Bill Taylor, who said, “We had some big news this year!  The Back Bay was recognized by the American Planning Association as one of the Great Places in America.  This was wonderful news for the Back Bay Association, as we continue our efforts to improve promote and protect business in the Back Bay.”  Taylor went on to outline activities of the BBA and introduced Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

Menino took the podium and said, “A city is only as strong as its neighborhoods, and the Back Bay is a shining example.” Boston as a whole is growing at a tremendous rate. The city is approaching small-scale capital projects such as solar-powered trash compactors in addition to large development. Menino highlighted several Back Bay transactions, including Boston Properties’ recent purchase of the John Hancock Tower and Liberty Mutual’s recent approval to expand its headquarters.  He also outlined the Christian Science Center’s planning process, Simon Property’s new lease signing with Department of Transportation to expand Copley Place, and Berklee College’s master plan approval.  As a final note, Menino urged businesses to offer summer jobs to Boston’s youth adding that it is a great way to give back to the community (for only $1,900 a summer, one child can have a position).

Before the meeting’s keynote speaker took the stage, the BBA, with the help of Menino, recognized this year’s “Heavy Lifting” award winner, Liberty Mutual Chairman and CEO Edmund F. “Ted” Kelly.

Taylor said, “Liberty Mutual will be celebrating their 100th anniversary next year, and we are so fortunate as a neighborhood and as a city to have such visionary company like Liberty Mutual here.”

Liberty Mutual was one of the first companies to “discover” the Back Bay as a business address, and it has invested here for nearly 100 years.  This year, it deepened their roots in the Back Bay, by expanding and building a new headquarters building here.  This new building, at a cost of more than 300 million dollars, will add 600 new jobs to the area and generate more than $64 million in taxes.  Back Bay is the company’s home, but remember, Liberty Mutual is a worldwide company, which is a huge benefit to Boston that they remain headquartered here.”

Kelly lauded the mayor for his leadership of the city and said, “Liberty Mutual owes a debt of gratitude” to the city and Mayor Menino. He added, “It is your work that keeps us thriving. The decision to deepen the company’s roots in the Back Bay was a “cold, hard commercial. Boston is a Mecca of intellectual capital.”

Next, Harvard economist and author of “Triumph of the City,” Edward Glaeser gave a captivating presentation about the importance of our city’s urban areas. “Cities are machines that forge human capital,” Glaeser said.

He relayed that people need to be surrounded by other people that they spent generations communicating face-to-face, and that can’t be replaced electronically.  He added that, “the human and, thus intellectual, capital that cities hold is exactly what makes the people collectively thrive. Individuals have access to greater depths of education and skill training and can subsequently increase their wages and standard of living.”

Glaeser said, “At our core as a species, our greatest gift is to learn from other people.” Looking at the rich cultural, academic, and professional capital Boston our city is home to, Boston holds incredibly potential for producing growth.”

Like Menino, Glaeser urged the room to invest in children. “They are our future and investing in intellectual capital will help our society progress much more greatly than a new transportation system,” he concluded.

Following Glaeser’s passionate presentation, BBA Treasurer, Bill Kenney (General Manager of Copley Place/Simon Property Group) gave the treasurer’s report, and Gary aunders, chairman of the nominating Committee (chairman of Saunders Hotel Group) gave the Nominating Committee Report.

Mainzer-Cohen and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis concluded the meeting by presenting the Back Bay Security Network Award to Detectives Bill Dickinson and Margaret Murphy.

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