Name: Nicholas Iselin
Title: General Manager, Lendlease, Boston
Experience: 26 years
Nick Iselin grew up in Philadelphia and attended Harvard University as an undergraduate and later studied at its Graduate School of Design. After starting his career in architecture, he shifted to the development side working for a variety of public and private entities, including 11 years at Intercontinental Real Estate in Boston. In 2014, he joined Lendlease’s Boston office to head its local development projects as the Australian real estate giant expands its pipeline in the U.S. The company is set to break ground this fall on the 478-unit Clippership Wharf residential complex on the East Boston waterfront. It’s also one of the companies that has submitted proposals to the Boston Redevelopment Authority to redevelop the Winthrop Square garage property, in a partnership with Hudson Group North America and Eagle Development Partners.
Q:What were some of the major projects you worked on in your stint at Intercontinental Real Estate in Boston?
A:The Nine Zero hotel was the first project I worked on, which was great. It was a baptism by fire, my introduction to the development world. I worked on 226 Causeway St., the old Stop & Shop bakery building, and Waterplace in downtown Providence. (The Stop & Shop) bakery had been vacant for years. It was a great community process because everybody could tell stories about their memories about the smell of fresh-baked bread. The sixth-floor warehouse building was very solidly built with ovens on the top floors that had to be demolished. They had walls that were four feet thick.
Q:That project really set the tone for all of the adaptive reuse development in that neighborhood, didn’t it?
A:It got a jump on North Station for sure. The building that was saved for Converse (headquarters) was the right one to save. The buildings didn’t align and they were in various states of repair, so it was the right plan.
Q:How has Lendlease expanded its market share in the U.S.?
A:We bought Bovis Construction, so that established the platform for Bovis Lendlease here in the U.S. And over the past five years we’ve rebranded and consolidated under the Lendlease name. But the Bovis roots are still there. That’s how we’ve been known in the U.S., as a construction company. Our toe in the water in development has been military housing, as the largest builder of housing on military bases in the country, and we also do hotels on military bases. We’re developers everywhere else in the world.
Q:What are the advantages of the combined development and constructions platforms?
A:Part of it’s speed to market, part of it’s feedback during underwriting and preconstruction and part of it is a consolidated finance solution for projects.
Q:What’s unique about waterfront development permitting in Massachusetts?
A:The challenges are many in East Boston because it’s subject to flooding. The municipal harbor plan sets the heights and view corridors. There’s the underlying zoning; there’s Chapter 91, which has its own parameters. We’re right next to the MBTA which has a different set of parameters. There’s the FAA, Army Corps of Engineers and Conservation Commission. The challenge at Clippership is there’s a huge amount of linear frontage, which is costly to manage, but has given us opportunities to create a unique environment. We’ve raised our ground level above the surrounding streets significantly to look at a 100-year time horizon.
Q:What’s the latest timetable for Clippership Wharf?
A:We’ve achieved our Chapter 91 license. We have a soil remediation effort that needs to take place and we hope to get that underway (in June). That’s about four months. We want to create a different destination on the waterfront. We have a canoe and kayak center. It’s an opportunity to get people to interact with the waterfront, not just look at it behind bollards and chains.
Q:How much is Lendlease planning to invest in the Boston area?
A:Our strategy is comprised of (global) gateway cities. We have an office in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and L.A. I won’t give you an exact number but we will put a considerable amount of equity to put into these markets. We’ve looked to establish local connections in all these markets, on-the-ground knowledge and teaming that with our global expertise to create the best places.
Iselin’s Top Five Cookbooks
- “Ad Hoc at Home,” by Thomas Keller
- “Sunday Suppers at Lucques,” by Suzanne Goin
- “Flour,” by Joanne Chang
- “A New Turn in the South,” by Hugh Acheson
- “Home Cooking with Jean-Georges,” by Jean Georges Vongerichten