Developers Are Energized by Mayor’s District Proposal

December 15, 2011
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After the construction of Piers Park, East Boston’s waterfront development has all but stalled. However, Mayor Thomas Menino’s speech last week before the Boston Chamber of Commerce has breathed new life into several projects along the neighborhood’s shoreline and developers are excited.

Developers of the waterfront development projects slated for East Boston are beaming with excitement over Mayor Thomas Menino’s recent speech before the Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Last week, during his annual speech at the Chamber Menino pitched his plan to establish an Eastie Waterfront Development District, allowing the City to use various tools to jumpstart development. In the speech the Mayor proposed District Improvement Financing in Eastie that would allow the city to invest up front in infrastructure and recoup the cost later through tax revenue as a way to jumpstart development on the waterfront here.

Phillip DeNormandie, whose company has 119 residential units slated at the former Hodge Boiler works site, said it was one of the best speeches he’s heard the Mayor give at the Chamber.

“I’m excited about the Mayor’s focus on East Boston because it gives us a good chance to get things off the ground,” said DeNormandie. “Usually when the Mayor makes a neighborhood a focus it makes a huge difference because everyone else will start to set their sites on the neighborhood and that will breath new life into these projects.”

DeNormandie Companies has planned high-end residential space along Eastie’s waterfront. The new building will remain in touch with its historic industrial roots, however, with such architectural details as glass-block windows and extra wide window bays.

The planned DeNormandie Wharf will be eight stories and have 119 apartments and a small bed and breakfast overlooking Boston Harbor. The apartments will be studios, one bedroom, two bedroom, and penthouse level duplexes. The property will also include a waterfront café, a marina, a marina services building, and a water taxi stop. Additionally, there will be a public plaza incorporated into the city’s Harbor Walk.

Chris Flemming, Project Director of Winn Development’s Clippership Wharf project behind Maverick Square said he was equally excited about the Mayor’s call to arms.

“We are very excited and really feel East Boston’s time has finally arrived,” said Flemming. “We have been very anxious to see stuff happening on the waterfront here and the Mayor’s speech arrived at a time when things are starting to progress.”
Like DeNormandie, Flemming said industry insiders and developers always look to the Mayor for a signal and the transformation of a waterfront or neighborhood usually ensues with great enthusiasm. “When that signal comes from the Mayor things start to happen pretty fast like they did in South Boston,” said Flemming. “Last week’s speech was definitely the signal a lot of developers have been waiting for.” Winn hopes to begin construction on Clippership Wharf by the second quarter of next year.

There, Winn has entered into a partnership to construct 400 waterfront rental units on the 13-acre Clippership Wharf site.

The project, and its proximity to the Maverick Square T station, Winn has planned for water transit terminals and water taxi stops in accord with Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Redevelopment’s 2000 East Boston Master Plan. That plan outlined a shared vision for the future of the neighborhood.

The plan also laid the groundwork for growth along Eastie’s neglected waterfront and Menino’s renewed interest in water taxi services along the Harbor.

While Roseland Property’s Joe Shea could not be reached for comment, his company’s project, the much-anticipated Portside at East Pier located next to Eastie’s famed Piers Park should also get boost from the Mayor’s speech.

Roseland plans to construct 400 condominium and 176 multifamily homes with nearly 70,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and commercial services. Combined with incredible views of downtown Boston, a four-minute direct MBTA Blue Line access to downtown Boston, ferry service, ample parking, ambiance of the adjacent parks and marine-related activities, this Eastie development has a decade in the making.

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