Only Bidder: Cargo Ventures Still Eyes Railroad Right-of-Way Along Chelsea Creek

Five months ago, Cargo Ventures tried to acquire an unused stretch of land that once served as a railroad along the Chelsea Creek behind several current freight forwarding and rental car facilities. The state put out an Invitation to Bid (ITB) for the land that runs parallel to McClellan Highway in the form of easements through the ITB process. Cargo Ventures was the only reported bidder.

However, a lack of community process had elected officials, residents and neighborhood activists calling for a more transparent process. In July the MBTA’s Fiscal Management Control Board Chair Joe Aiello said the state was shelving the ITB process until a review of the corridor and alternative uses for the land could be explored. At the Control Board meeting Monday Aiello said the state will look at possibly using the easements to improve mobility in and around Eastie.

With the ITB shelved,  Cargo Ventures CEO Jacob Citrin is kicking off what is sure to be a long community process to sell his ideas for the stretch of industrial land along the Chelsea Creek that his company owns.

At last week’s Orient Heights Neighborhood Council (OHNC) meeting, Citrin briefed residents on the parcels Cargo Ventures owns at 605 Chelsea St./160 McClellan Hwy, 230-370 McClellan Hwy and 440-480 McClellan Hwy.

At 605 Chelsea/160 McClellan Hwy site, Citrin told OHNC members his company would like to renovate the 605 Chelsea St. parcel into a 25,000 square foot office/retail space or light manufacturing space with associated offices. This would include a 2,200 car parking facility with an associated transportation center or 100,000 square feet of multi-service industrial space.

Citrin said this building would be used by existing park and fly operations on McClellan Hwy as well as airport employee parking. The industrial facilities would be occupied by airport-related businesses.

Over at 230-370 McClellan Hwy Citrin told the crowd there would be a phased renovation and expansion of existing 80,000 square feet of industrial space to a 600,000 square foot multi-story industrial space with offices and car parking. This site could also be used as a potential alternative to future airport park and fly operations and airport employee parking.

Then at 440-480 McClellan Hwy, Citrin said Cargo Ventures would develop 264,000 square feet of industrial and office space. The industrial facility would be occupied by airport-related business and general industrial companies that need to based in Boston.

However, Citrin said a key to the overhaul of this industrial stretch of land between the Chelsea Creek and McClellan Highway is the 1.1 mile long stretch of land along the Chelsea Creek. The land once served as the Conrail right-of-way, an old railroad route that stretched through the neighborhood during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Back in July, if the state did not pull the ITB, Cargo Ventures would have developed the land to give the company’s truck drivers direct access to Logan Airport via the Marty Coughlin Bypass Road.

This, Citrin said at last week’s OHNC meeting, would remove nearly 1,000 vehicles currently serving Cargo Ventures industrial properties up and down McClellan Hwy from local roads.

Citrin explained that these airport related freight forwarding companies would have direct access to Logan, via an extension of the existing bypass road, without adding to the growing congestion on Route 1A South. Citrin also said the long term goal would be to encourage trucks coming down from points north of Eastie to also use the bypass road extension his company would provide.

“They did this, connecting tunnels and highways to a haul road in Southie with great success,” said Citrin.

Citrin said the unused stretch would be transformed into a haul road that connects to the Marty Coughlin Bypass Road for commercial traffic. The plan would include a harborwalk with waterfront access for residents with climate resilience features.

Cargo Ventures is also willing to enter into a mitigation agreement with the community to fund community projects and community initiatives.

Citrin said all this hinges on community support as well as Massport approval and MassDOT and MBTA consent.

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