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 ([email protected]).
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. [email protected]