New Street Developer Might Sell Property

January 4, 2012
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Word on the street is that the developers of a waterfront parcel on New Street in East Boston are looking to sell the property that would add 224 waterfront units to the neighborhood.

According to sources, New Street Realty Trust has a potential buyer but there may be a snag because the potential buyer does not want to do the large-scale redevelopment of the property that New Street Realty Trust was permitted for and planned along Eastie’s waterfront.

The developer received Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approval last year to add 224 waterfront units and extend the building to 15 stories.

In the New Street Realty Trust’s Expanded Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Phase 1 of the project  consisted of redevelopment and expansion of the existing 9-story building to 15 stories, create 224 residential units and construction of a two-level parking garage to the north of the building. The project’s first phase would have also include the demolition of three  existing buildings, construction of a Harbor Walk connection along the waterfront with a  connection to LoPresti Park, construction of a water taxi landing in the Designated Port Area  (DPA) and water taxi waiting area adjacent to the DPA, removal of existing pile fields,  construction of a DPA vehicle access route from New Street, creation of surface parking in the  southeastern area of the site and creation of lawn and open space on the remainder of the site.

Phase 2 of the project would have included construction of a six-story building to provide 59 residential units or 106  hotel/extended stay units, an underground parking garage, construction of a single story building  for a restaurant or other Facility of Public Accommodation (FPA), construction of a recreational marina to the south of the DPA and dredging of approximately 2,300 cubic yards to support  the marina.

However, the potential buyer, according to sources, has no desire to undergo a massive redevelopment project with the size and scope of New Street Realty Trust plan that was approved by the BRA. The potential buyer simply wants to redevelop the nine-story warehouse into lofts.

This has disappointed some because New Street Realty Trust’s proposal, which received widespread support from the community and elected officials, was touted as the waterfront development project that gave other developers the confidence to put shovels in the ground along Eastie’s shore. The speed at which the New Street project had been permitted and its attractive design was fast becoming the benchmark for other developments like Hodge Boiler Works, Pier I and Clippership Wharf.

Some looked to the New Street project as being  the first wave of waterfront development along Eastie’s shore after a decade of starts and stops by big time developers like Roseland, Winn and Denormandie.

Many felt after shovels are in the ground at New Street, other multimillion-dollar developments could begin shortly thereafter.

It has also made some uneasy as Mayor Menino’s call for waterfront development has coincided with a push to put a resort-style casino at Suffolk Downs. While there has been jubilation over Menino’s call to arms for waterfront developers to get started in Eastie, some believe these large scale, high-end waterfront developments are quickly being downgraded. Already, Clippership Wharf has gone from high-end condos to a plan to construct market rate rental units. The project also called for brick construction like the developments along Charlestown and the North End’s waterfronts. However, that too has changed as developer Arthur Winn plans to use wood construction instead.

The 3.93-acre New Street site is located in the southwestern comer of Eastie’s waterfront.  It is bounded by New Street and Maverick Landing to the east, LoPresti Park to the south, Boston  Inner Harbor to the west and the Boston Towing and Transportation Companies property to the  north.  It is located in close proximity to Maverick Square and the MBTA’s Blue Line Maverick  Station.

Back in 2007, the ambitious $90 million development project got the green light from Secretary of Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian A. Bowles to begin Phase 1 of the project prior to preparing a mandatory  Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the entire project.

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