By John Lynds
East Boston CDC (Community Development Corporation) Director Al Caldarelli has patiently waited for 45 years to develop the Boston East Site on Border Street along the neighborhood’s waterfront.
“I was recently looking through our old development plans from 1971 and we had this site as a potential site for the CDC to redevelop,” said Caldarelli.
On Thursday, Caldarelli joined Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin Walsh, Eastie’s elected officials and representatives from Trinity Financial to break ground on the highly anticipated $71 million mixed use waterfront development project.
“This site and East Boston’s waterfront was booming at one time and was a place for jobs that helped the local economy,” explained Calderelli at the ground breaking. “But by the 1970s it has fallen into disrepair and was blocked off from the community.”
The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approved the project last year and the boutique mid-rise development will feature 174 market-rate and 26 affordable units, including six artist live-work units.
Boston East will also actively engage the waterfront through the development and expansion of the Boston Harborwalk made possible in part through a $3 million MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to Eastie.
“Today we are seeing another example of the amazing accomplishments that come of successful public-private partnerships,” said Baker. “Not only will this development bring new housing opportunities to East Boston, but it will open up the waterfront to the entire community, transforming a former industrial site into an asset for the neighborhood as a whole, and maximize our administration’s infrastructure investments.”
Boston East, which is designed by ICON Architecture, features an acre of open space that includes a number of community outdoor spaces – including multiple decks and a large rooftop lounge. A harbor walk trail will extend around and past the development, and residents will also have access to on site paddle boarding and a kayak launch.
“This is an exciting day for East Boston, as this project will have a tremendous impact on the neighborhood and revitalize our waterfront,” said Walsh. “Boston East is a great example of how we are working together with our partners to transform vacant, City-owned lots into thriving and innovative spaces. This development is not just for its residents, but for the entire East Boston community: with increased access to the Harbor, expanded open space, and space to celebrate art and culture.”
Boston East is located in one of Eastie’s fastest growing neighborhoods near restaurants and a variety of arts, cultural and outdoor amenities and activities.
According to the CDC,the development was financed through a $45.7 million construction loan from J.P. Morgan and will feature studio, 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units, along with loft units located close to the MBTA Blue Line, downtown Boston and Logan International Airport. In addition, Boston East will feature a public art gallery that will showcase work from area artists.
The site also includes a portion of land that is a Designated Port Area and will be developed by the East Boston Community Development Corporation with a marine related use.
“Growing up in East Boston we never had access to our own waterfront…it was always fenced off and a place that was not conducive to public uses,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro. “Now with Boston East and other waterfront developments in the neighborhood we are reclaiming our waterfront. Over the next two years we will have a waterfront, harborwalk and water related activities the entire community will enjoy as well as visitors from other neighborhoods.”
City Councilor Sal LaMattina echoed Madaro’s comments and said he is glad all these developments are happening in his lifetime.
“This is a special day because we have planned and planned for decades to get our waterfront to where it is today,” said LaMattina. “Now, in my lifetime, all that work by the community is finally paying off and we will soon have the best waterfront in all of Boston.”
At the ribbon cutting, Trinity announced the interior of the Boston East project will feature designs by husband and wife duo Robert and Cortney Novogratz, who are known for their eclectic taste and unique style.
Once the Novogratz are finished with their designs, Boston East residents can expect the interior to reflect influences from Boston’s rich history and the nearby marinas and shipyards.
“We’re thrilled to mark the official groundbreaking of Boston East, which will offer residents the opportunity to enjoy waterfront living in one of Boston’s hottest neighborhoods,” said Abby Goldenfarb, vice president at Trinity Financial. “We’re fortunate to have so much support from all of our state, city and local partners. This community will be unlike any other residential development in Boston, enabling residents of all ages to experience the very best of active, urban living in a thriving East Boston.”