City Councilor Sal LaMattina leaned over to Mayor Thomas Menino during Monday’s groundbreaking on East Boston’s long awaited waterfront development project at Portside at Pier One and asked the Mayor to pinch him.“I must be dreaming,” joked LaMattina, who worked as hard as anyone this past decade to convert Eastie’s neglected waterfront into a thriving part of the neighborhood.
“If the developers from the other waterfront projects are here, I’m letting you know now it’s time to get off your seats and start getting to work,” warned a stern LaMattina.
LaMattina and Menino joined Governor Deval Patrick, Massport officials, Roseland Properties and Eastie’s other elected officials to break ground on the first phase of Portside at Pier One, Eastie’s first new residential waterfront development.
The groundbreaking marked the construction of the first of seven planned buildings and will lead in the transformation of the underutilized shoreline that has some of the best views of the Boston skyline.
“Today’s groundbreaking demonstrates how public-private partnerships can create economic opportunity and prosperity for a local community,” said Patrick. “I applaud the City of Boston and Massport working together with the East Boston community and the private sector to support this important waterfront investment. Ultimately everyone who lives, works and does business in East Boston will benefit.”
First to be constructed is a five-story apartment building featuring 176 units, with 26 designated for affordable housing, and retail space on the ground floor. It is part of a larger planned mixed-use, 550 luxury-unit project scheduled to be built over the next few years on Massport-owned property along Marginal Street and on Pier One.
“Just one year ago, I made a commitment to take East Boston’s enormous waterfront potential and turn it into progress,” said Menino. “Thanks to focus and collective action, today I can proudly share with the residents of East Boston this momentous housing start and a promising neighborhood that is underway.”
In 2006, initial construction began on the Roseland project, but stalled during the economic downturn and challenging real estate market. In 2012, Massport restructured the ground lease for the first apartment building, giving new life to the project. Massport and Roseland continued to work with members of East Boston’s Waterfront Development Advisory Committee (WDAC), the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association, the East Boston Piers Project Advisory Committee (Piers PAC) and local elected officials to preserve plans to revive the 13-acre waterfront site.
“Today represents the culmination of effort by the Governor, the Mayor, the East Boston community and its elected officials, Roseland and Massport, to get this project restarted,” said Massport CEO Thomas Glynn. “Like Piers Park, this development represents a significant contribution by Massport to revitalize East Boston’s waterfront neighborhood. We believe it will also prompt other private development in the rebirth of one of Boston’s hidden gems.”
In 1995, Massport constructed the 6.5 acre Piers Park, located adjacent to the Portside at Pier One site–boasting the same spectacular views of downtown Boston. The public park features a 600-foot pedestrian promenade extending out into Boston’s inner harbor, and more than 16 different species of trees, flowering shrubs, annual and perennial flowers.
In addition to stunning views, Portside at Pier One amenities include, close proximity to the MBTA’s Blue Line, on-site parking, public access to the waterfront, and landscaped open spaces. Roseland is also providing a subsidy for a proposed water transportation service at Lewis Street serving East Boston when the first apartment building opens, which is scheduled to be completed in spring of 2014.
“This is truly a great day for East Boston,” said Senator Anthony Petruccelli. “When we first, started talking about redevelopment of this waterfront I was working for Mayor Menino in the office of Neighborhood Services so that’s how long it has been. There are a lot of people to thank for their commitment of seeing this project through even when it looked as though it may not survive but above all I have to thank the community of East Boston for their patients over the years as they watched this parcel lay dormant. There were some very frustrating years but today is a special day for everyone that worked on this project.”
The construction of the first apartment building is expected to create some 200 full-time union labor jobs, and is estimated to cost roughly $46 million to complete. RBS Citizens is providing $42.5 million in construction loan financing. Roseland is a Mack-Cali Company with headquarters in Short Hills, NJ. The general contractor for Portside at Pier One is Cranshaw Construction of Newton Lower Falls, MA.
“We are delighted to see this much-anticipated project get underway, said President and CEO of Mack-Cali Mitchell Hersh. “The extraordinary public and residential aspects of this community, including an expanded marina and shipyard, world class waterfront park, and magnificent views of the downtown Boston skyline, will all combine to energize the East Boston Waterfront.”