Waterfront Development: When Does It Begin Anew?

May 17, 2012
By

When Mayor Thomas Menino announced during his state of the city address last January that he was making East Boston a development district, it was believed that the waterfront would get the badly needed jump start it has been hoping for since the collapse of the economy in 2008.

Many a possible solid real estate development had been in place and received permitting following years of planning at the time everything went south.

Then came the mayor’s stirring speech which renewed the belief that Eastie was about to become the spitting image of the Seaport District directly across from Eastie on the other side of the Mystic River.

Since January, nothing has materialized and as many might be prone to say, the natives are getting a bit jumpy.

It is always next to impossible to discern what the mayor is waiting for or why developers have not already broken ground on permitted projects on the waterfront here.

Generally, developers don’t go forward unless they can make money on what they have built.

As attractive as land on the East Boston waterfront is, developers lose interest if they can’t build their units and then rent them at market value – that is – at Boston market value.

In addition, there is the perceived belief among nearly everyone involved with the development of the waterfront here that union labor must be used exclusively and without exception.

This is not an insurmountable obligation because the union labor clause is in effect for other such real estate development projects going up in Boston.

Then there is the reality that interest rates are incredibly low making every kind of real estate project less expensive to put up because the money borrowed at lower interest  costs far less to pay back.

The real compelling question is not whether or not the East Boston waterfront is going to be developed.

The real question is when the mayor is going to pull the trigger on the various projects waiting to get started.

The mayor above all is a strategist with an understanding about how to roll big developments out and when to roll them out.

East Boston, we presume, is waiting for the mayor’s right moment.

  • Frederick Wright

    Given the fact that East Boston has already exceeded its ‘affordable’ housing targets by a comfortable margin, I would assume that any rational developer would be drooling at the thought of being able to build unencumbered on prime waterfront land which is adjacent to a new subway stop.   As much sympathy I have for the permanent underclass, over 16% of our housing stock is already reserved for them.  Time to build for the rest of us.  The non-billionaire families who go to work every day and prefer the energy, vitality, and diversity of East Boston to the mind-numbing sterility of a McMansion in suburbia.

  • Tonyp99

    Forcing union contractors for development is a bad idea.  Make the unions compete for jobs on price and value like the rest of us.

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