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Recap: Edison Plant Development Meeting

Written by Anna White

Last night, South Boston saw the final meeting, in a series of meetings, about 776 Summer Street, the former Edison Power Plant, before the initial public comment period ends on on August 4th.  

These meetings were set up for the new owners of the property, Redgate/Hilco, to talk about their initial ideas and to receive comments from the community about what they want or do not want to see on the parcel. The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) is supposed to record all the comments and these comments are supposed to be used to help shape the project. It wasn’t clear if anyone was actually recording the comments/questions last night. So if you have a comment or a question about this massive development on over 15 acres you have until the end of the business day on August 4 to email your comments to Tim Czerwienski, the BPDA project manager (tim.czerwienski@boston.gov).

Comments can be as simple as:I think this this project should only have 500 units. Or I would support this project if Redgate funded a study to bring the Red Line to City Point. Or without at least a 5 acre public park on the site, I do not support any development of the old power plant. Or I support a hotel and a grocery store on this site but no residential units. Or I think this site should stay zoned for maritime uses. Or I don’t think 1500 units is enough, I want 2500 units with 25% of them affordable, workforce housing.
Really your comments/opinions are yours but the BPDA NEEDS TO READ them so email Tim.
Some background:Redgate and Hilco Redevelopment Partners formed a joint venture to acquire the former Edison Power Plant located at 776 Summer Street. The property is comprised of just over 15 acres. The newly formed joint venture is led by Redgate. What is Redgate: Redgate is a strategic real estate investment and advisory firm headquartered in Boston; through their investment platform – Redgate Capital Partners – they co-invest with their clients  with Redgate acting as the developer/operator. What is Hilco Redevelopment Partners: Hilco is a Chicago company and their Redevelopment arm “fixes-up” obsolete industrial sites by using Hilco Global, an independent financial services company, and, according to their website, “the world’s premier authority on asset valuation, monetization, and advisory solutions.”  Phew!

What Redgate/Hilco have proposed, and have spoken about at every meeting:

■ 1,588 units of housing — both apartments and condos.

■ Seven new buildings, three of which will be at least 200 feet high;

■ A 150-room hotel, 339,000 square feet of office space, and 68,000 square feet of retail;

■ 987 underground parking spaces and more than 10,000 new car trips per day to and from the project, with another nearly 5,000 transit riders;

■  A new road off Summer Street and a 1.15-acre plaza along the Reserved Channel;

■ Dedicated space for “arts and industry” uses, and a rehab of the plant’s century-old Turbine Hall.  Last night’s meeting;

In a nutshell:
Three of the D2 City Council Candidates were there: Corey G. Dinopoulos, Edward M. Flynn, and Joseph F. Kebartas. Their main points, summarized: Corey spoke about the need for better transportation for that area. Especially the buses, one of his examples the #7, the main bus line to the area, doesn’t even run 7 days a week. Ed: pressed the environmental issues and the fact that the site might not be clean. He wants to make sure it’s clean, by the highest standards, before we even think about construction over there. Joe: spoke about how there aren’t enough kids in South Boston anymore. And how we need housing for families and workers.

State Representative Nick Collins was also there. He really got the meeting focused and made sure resident voices were heard. He wants to make sure there is a balance in the neighborhood and that this entire site isn’t private. There needs to be public green space, etc. He is also concerned about the density of what Redgate/Hilco has proposed and all the additional cars that it will bring.

Mark McGonagle from the BPDA also spoke and said that there would be no new taxes  to pay for the increased need for more police or fire. He also said that since this is currently zoned for Industrial and Maritime uses, the current South Boston residential zoning requirements don’t apply. These meetings will be used to determine the height of the new residential building to be built on the property. The property won’t just automatically switch to South Boston 100 feet residential zoning if the Industrial and or Maritime Zoning gets lifted for this parcel.

One of the most interesting parts of the meeting had to do with all the Longshoremen who were there. What is a Longshoreman: a person employed in a port to load and unload ships. This site sits next to one of the busiest ports on the East Coast,  Conley Terminal. Conley Terminal is experiencing insane growth and all of the world’s leading container lines ship through it. They move nearly 1.5 million metric tons of cargo each year! That is a HUGE number and it relevant not only to the economy of South Boston but to the economy of all of New England! The Longshoreman are concerned that this development will put restrictions on them and their ability to do their jobs at the Terminal. They are also wary of losing a 15 acre site that is currently zoned for Maritime and Industrial uses to Residential purposes. According to a Longshoreman who spoke last night, the South Boston waterfront used to have over 3000 Longshoreman and now they are down to under 300.

This meeting did get heated. There were F-bombs. People are concerned about their health and the quality of life of living in South Boston. This is a large site and its future seems, potentially, wide open. The BPDA needs to hear from all of us whether you are in support or not, about the future of development on this site. Take the 5 minutes and send Tim an email. Please. tim.czerwienski@boston.gov

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  1. Southie guy says

    “Mark McGonagle from the BPDA also spoke and said that there would be no new taxes to pay for the increased need for more police or fire”

    So these new buildings wouldn’t be paying property taxes? How much is currently collected in taxes from this site?

  2. Bob says

    Mcgonagle talking about zoning changes again? Uh ohhhh. I smell southie getting screwed again. Isn’t he the guy that lead the rezoning which made it possible to tear down single famines to but up 14 units like the one at M and Marine. “No new taxes…” who is he George Bush. Well read my lips Marty, NO MORE MCGONAGLE!
    Honestly I dont think he screwed up the zoning on purpose. I think it was a mistake, incompetence, putting someone in charge of something for which they have no training. But seriously keep this kid inside before he hurts the community more. Start learning from your mistakes Marty. You are lucky Tito is not a legit challenger.

  3. Kathleen Toland says

    Concerned about all the issues discussed at the meeting. Environmental concerns about the site itself. Concerns about the environmental impact of the development on the neighborhood: traffic, density, height issues, lack of open space, lack of adequate parking and lack of adequate public transportation.
    Environmental mpacts on the community during construction.
    Not to mention the concerns of the Longshoreman and the impact on the Maritime uses of the area.
    The list could go on and on.
    I hope our community leaders dig deeply into all the potential impacts of this proposed development on South Boston before it’s too late.

  4. Sameer Bhoite says

    Thanks for the recap. I like the idea of a red line extension and support that especially with the increasing density on the East Side.

    • Tom says

      I respect your opinion on the Red Line coming to the Point, but I disagree with it. I look at some of the vermin tha hangs around the nearby MBTA stations and I don’t want that cancer spreading to the Point. I don’t think the Lower End should deal with it either, but unfortunately, that’s where the station is now. They should have more of a police presence.

  5. william perry says

    This property should remain zoned for Maritime use only. Paul Conley Terminal and the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal must have room to expand as both Terminals have seen growth in the past 5 or 6 years and if we do not have space to expand that will put an end to ships wanting to come to Boston. Most waterfront property in the City has been lost to development. In order to attract more shipping thru the Port we must have land available . More ships calling at these Terminals mean more jobs and more revenue to the State and City along with more Tourists that will also be exposed to all Boston has to offer. We must think about the future as Waterfront property is a valuable asset that must not be lost forever to non Maritime use. We must think this through as once we make a decision there is no turning back

    • Mary Cooney says

      First of all Massport has already acquired acres and acres of land along First St including designated park land to help build the Haul Rd. How greedy can they be allowed?
      Second .If the port expands.. all the pollution must be mitigated like every other major port in the US where trucks are retrofit, ships hook up to electric shore power and all the port equipment is noise and fuel efficient….We hear all the time.. it’s too expensive.. we’ll can’t have it both ways..unless the pols give it away..
      . We have been asking for years in preparation of port dredging and expansion..protect us from .diesel exposure especially from the giant cargo ships planning to use the port because it is deadly.
      Last but not least:Red gate can develop the land only if the Industrial zoning is amended.. that is up to the politicians who should be protecting the neighborhood and encouraging clean uses that can only come there with new zoning.. This plan is doomed without it.

      • Tom says

        I live near P and Third, right near Conley Terminal and I rarely, if ever, hear any type of noise other than ships blowing a horn now and then. There is this narrative by some who have already been bought off by Redgate/Hilco that the Terminal is a nuisance to the neighborhood. The Terminal was here before me and hasn’t caused any problems. If it were, you’d have a beef, but it’s not. If you don’t like it, you should move out.
        Tommy Flaherty, East Third Street

  6. A R says

    Great article, but Conley terminal has long been a fairly insignificant container terminal. The Boston Harbor cannot handle container ships of any significant size and the terminal handled only 237,000 TEUs in 2016. Compare to the 5.7 million in Newark, 3.3 million in Savannah, 2.4 million in Norfolk, etc.

  7. Eleanor says

    I thought I remembered reading that funding had been secured (Nick Collins spearheaded the effort from what I read) to dredge the channel to accomodate the larger ships.

    • acmc32 says

      You are correct. Conley has seen significant growth in the past few years and funding for the dredging has been approved.

  8. Ed says

    Mayor Walsh would be well advised to take a fresh look at his operation from the head of the ISD to the people on the ZBA gaveling through approvals for their friends and the politically connected. It’s at minimum an inept group of people in these roles at worst there is corruption involved. All very documentable–time to clean house Marty before this catches up to you ;/

  9. City Point Resident says

    We do not need more condos!! We do need a better grocery store and parking. What about a Maritime Museum? More exhibition space even? Heck, even restaurants and retail are fine, just no more condos!!

    Section 42E-21 of the city zoning code is interesting reading:

    “A transportation access plan must be in place for projects over 250,000 sq feet that reasonably demonstrates that a vehicle trip generation rate of one (1.0) vehicle per hour per 1,000 square feet of such uses in aggregate will not be exceeded during morning peak hours of 7-9:30am”.

    It also goes on to talk about shade and wind studies that would affect public spaces (such as the East First Street dog park, for example).

  10. Mary Cooney says

    The plan is doomed without the necessary zoning changes from industrial to residential/commercial that would allow the plan to proceed. with clean uses.
    They have 45 million dollars of clean up ahead of them on top of the 20 million of acquisition…that’s a lot of tomatoes..
    obviously the scale and scope has to balance the costs of buildout like everywhere else around town and in the Seaport..
    Let’s hope new zoning is created, adequate transportation concerns are mitigated and build out compromise is achieved.
    I’ve been waiting since 2000 to see any other masterplan initiatives realized.

  11. GregM says

    I would love to see the developer say agree to our proposal or we will build another power plant cause guess what, the site is already zoned for industrial use.

  12. Ken Conley says

    This development needs to have affordable housing and or rent control. Too many of South Boston residents have been pushed out due over developing the neighborhood. As a former resident i can not currently move back to South Boston because i cant afford it yet. I am a Longshoreman and this development will also hurt my job.
    Preventing me and my 1 income family to ever move back. There are no condos on top of the Charles River. So why would you put one on top of the industrial busy Atlantic Ocean?