Roseland Property’s Project Manager Joe Shea was at the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association meeting last Tuesday to announce some good news for the neighborhood.
Shea said his company, after nearly a decade of starts and stops, is ready to begin construction on East Boston’s first waterfront development project. Shea said activity at the site on Marginal Street could begin as early as next month.
“We will begin construction on the first of five building on the back lot at Pier One,” said Shea at the meeting. “We are excited to finally move forward and I think all eyes are on us to be the first in the ground and other waterfront development project will follow.”
Roseland plans to construct 400 condominium and 176 multifamily homes with nearly 70,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and commercial services. Combined with incredible views of downtown Boston, a four-minute direct MBTA Blue Line access to downtown Boston, ferry service, ample parking, ambiance of the adjacent parks and marine-related activities, this Eastie development has a decade in the making.
Sources close to the project said once the first building is up and running it may be as little as 36 months for the entire 13-acre Massport-owned site.
“With spectacular views, great water transportation access, and a vibrant diverse community, East Boston is on the move,” said Mayor Thomas Menino. “This is a great first step in all of the terrific things that are in store for residents.”
Pressure on Roseland began to mount this year after Massport’s board voted to extend its lease at Pier I. While some in Eastie questioned whether it was a wise decision to extend Roseland’s lease after the company failed to produce any waterfront development, Massport took a gamble and was energized after Mayor Thomas Menino’s December 6 2011 speech in front of the Boston Chamber of Commerce. In that speech, Menino pledged to jumpstart waterfront development on East Boston’s shore.
It was also reported that Roseland dumped Suffolk Construction as the contractor and hired a new contractor—the third since the project was approved. Skanska was the first victim of the Portside at East Pier I. Skanska had begun pile driving to prepare the site for development when the plug was abruptly pulled on their work. They were quickly replaced with Suffolk but the site remained idle for years with only Skanska’s pilings sticking out from the earth.
Fed up with the lack of movement on the Pier I site, Interim Massport CEO Dave Mackey, according to sources, gave Roseland an August 1 deadline to file a building permit with a new contractor.
The pressure from Mackey resulted in the pulling of a building permit in August with a new builder for the project. The new construction team, according to Shea, is Cranshaw Construction, a division of Newton’s National Development. Cranshaw’s portfolio included the Staples’ headquarters in Framingham and the Longwood Center lab building in Boston.
Roseland will also make use of the new ferry service being proposed by Boston as an added amenity.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority announced in September it had approved the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to purchase two passenger water transportation vessels. Each vessel will have a capacity of 40 to 100 passengers and be ADAaccessible. In August, the city was awarded $1.28 million in federal grant money for the purchase of the two ferries. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funds will assist in the implementation of ferry service between Eastie, South Boston, and Charlestown.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” joked City Councilor Sal LaMattina at last week’s meeting. “We’ve waited a long time in East Boston to get waterfront development off the ground so in all seriousness I’m excited by the news tonight that Roseland is ready to build.”
Senator Anthony Petruccelli echoed LaMattina’s reaction.
“This is great news for the neighborhood,” said Petruccelli. “A lot of hard work has been done by the community, the groundwork has been laid and it is now time to build.”
Representative Carlo Basile said he anticipates that once Roseland moves forward other developers along Eastie’s waterfront will get going.
“What we might see is a domino effect,” said Basile. “Nobody wanted to be the first in the ground so now that Roseland is moving forward I think it will give confidence to other developers at Clippership and Hodge Boiler Works.”