Michael Fallon
President, The Fallon Co.
Age: 30
Industry experience: 16 years 

Michael Fallon was appointed president of The Fallon Co., just last month, but the 30-year-old real estate executive is already thinking about the long-term legacy of the Boston-based development company founded by his father Joseph in 1993. Best known for the 3 million-square-foot Fan Pier complex on Boston Harbor, The Fallon Co. is developing mixed-use projects in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, and eyeing other metros for opportunities. After working as a materials engineer at Turner Construction Co. and obtaining a master’s degree in finance from Bentley College, Fallon joined the family firm in 2012 as a vice president and has overseen its expansion into the southeastern U.S. 

Q: What projects were you involved in during your stint at Turner Construction?
A: Primarily the Liberty Mutual headquarters at Stuart and Berkeley streets. That was in 2011 and I was a project engineer, working on the exterior wall material stuff. I got to travel a little bit to Indiana where the limestone comes from. Besides Indiana University, there’s not a lot out there but limestone quarries. One guy was stationed there to do quality control and put in a tracking system. There were 25 to 50 pieces on each precast piece of wall we’d hang. He put the bar codes on 29,000 pieces of stone. 

Q: How did you decide it was time to join the family business?
A: I went back to school and did my master’s in finance at Bentley and was finishing up there and came to work with my dad in 2013. It was definitely not a foregone conclusion, but it’s funny how things work out. I was studying international relations and a lot of folks were recruited to the State Department, so I didn’t know if I was going that route. I’d worked for S&F Concrete during summers growing up. My dad dropped me off one summer as a senior in high school right in the middle of a construction site in his brand-new Mercedes. He wanted to make sure they gave me some shit. 

Q: What are the resiliency measures for the MassMutual office building now under construction on Fan Pier?
A: The whole site is built up [above the high tide level] and there’s more of a grade than people can see. We’ll have aquafences if there’s significant water, but nothing’s ever gotten more than 6 feet past the sea wall. Fortunately, we’ve been OK. A lot of the problems we’ve seen in the city, the water is coming from the storm drains and a lot of them don’t have backflow preventers. 

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Q: What’s the Fallon Co.’s geographic focus for new development?
A: We’re actively bidding on projects in Boston. Boston is our hometown. North Carolina has significant traction so we opened an office there in 2016 and we’re doing 1.1 million square feet in Charlotte: offices, apartments, retail and a hotel. We bought just shy of a full city block in Raleigh for an office building and hotel and multifamily building.  

Since I’ve been involved, what we’ve seen is increased competition in Boston. Pharma and life sciences have really driven the market, especially in Cambridge. We started out with Vertex in the Seaport. In terms of ground-up development sites, it’s very challenging to find opportunities that give you a return on your investment.  

Building in Boston is expensive now. The biggest change has been the construction costs and the yield spread on land. So, a lot of different out-of-state firms, and also out-of-country firms, are bidding on land. One of the metrics is price-per-buildable-foot and that number is going well above $300 to $400, and that eventually has to go back to an increase in rent. The worst-kept secret among developers is we’re all building for roughly the same costs. There’s savings from value engineering or a good land deal, but ultimately you have to make that up. 

Q: What do you think about the Climate Ready Boston study’s recommendations for resiliency in the Seaport District, such as a potential new seawall and an elevated harborwalk?
A: Let’s be honest: if we’re talking about a massive sea level rise, it’s the whole city. So, what does the whole city do? It’s going to be a citywide solution. There were proposals for a sort of lock system. Those are really major undertakings that require a lot of federal money, so I don’t know what the appetite is at the federal government to do it. 

Q: Where do you fall in the debate over the new Northern Avenue bridge and whether it should be open to vehicles?
A: There should be some flexibility. One of our development theories is that we always want to maintain as much flexibility as possible. Market dynamics change pretty quickly. We may want to explore the options of having a bridge that can do that. 

Q: Is the new ferry to North Station making a dent in Seaport congestion?
A: Richard Martini, our executive vice president, is actively involved in that. The ferry is picking up quite a bit in popularity. It gets you to North Station in 14 minutes. It’s going to take you that or more to walk it. There are many landowners and tenants that are subsidizing the cost, but anyone can purchase a ticket. It’s very convenient. It’s not at capacity, but I’ve seen it well over half-full. You’re enclosed, it’s a comfortable environment, but it seems on bad weather days fewer people are taking it. As a city, I don’t know that we’ve used the harbor as efficiently as we can. 

Fallon’s Five Favorite Desserts: 

  1. Butter cake at Ocean Prime 
  2. Chocolate lava cake at Brazilian Grill Hyannis 
  3. Tiramisu at Strega Boston 
  4. Pop tarts, jelly doughnut, Oreo cookie at Flour 
  5. Apple pie at Death & Taxes in Raleigh 

Generational Change at The Fallon Co.

by Steve Adams time to read: 4 min