Proposed Back Bay building plan now includes 224 more homes

After a year and a half delay, the developer of a massive residential and retail tower in Boston’s Back Bay says it wants to move forward under a new plan that would add another 224 homes to the building.

Executives with Simon Property Group of Indianapolis outlined a series of changes Wednesday to its $500 million Copley Place tower during a meeting with neighbors. The company now wants to build 433 apartments and 109 condominiums in a 52-story skyscraper that would rise above an expanded Neiman Marcus store.

Simon will need approval for the revisions from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which approved a prior version of the project in November 2011 that included 318 residential units on 47 stories.

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Executives said that while the building will have more residences and floors, it will not be taller than the original proposal. At 569 feet, the tower would be among the tallest residential buildings in the city.

“We’re very committed to Boston and we think this is a phenomenal piece of real estate,” said Patrick Peterman, vice president of acquisitions for Simon. “Given the demand for residential [development], we’re very excited about this project.”

Simon hopes to start construction by spring 2015, but the timing is dependent on getting final approvals from city and state regulators. The company is seeking to build its tower on state-owned air rights over the Massachusetts Turnpike, and still needs to get final design and engineering sign-offs.

Peterman said adding a large concentration of rental units will help make the project financially feasible regardless of the market cycle. Typically, such large projects can suffer if they flood the market with condominiums during down cycle in the housing market.

“Given the long lead time for construction, we wanted to make sure our program was going to survive whatever economy we were in,” he said.

Under the revised plan, the number of affordable homes in the tower would increase to 71 from from 42, and all such units would be available for rent. The unit sizes in the building would shrink from an average of 1,500 square feet in the prior proposal to 770 square feet for the revised apartments, and 1,200 square feet for condominiums.

In addition to increasing the number of residences, Simon has also made several alterations to the base of the building. An enclosed atrium would now be accessible at street level—instead of up a series of steps—and the atrium would have large entrances on Dartmouth and Stuart streets.

The company is expect to file a formal accounting of its revisions with the BRA in coming weeks.