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On the waterfront, some arrivals delayed

By Christine MacDonald, Globe Correspondent, 4/4/2004

In a neighborhood that's waited decades for a waterfront revival, the ships are coming in on some long-delayed projects while others appear beached on hostile fiscal and regulatory shores.

Of the three luxury waterfront complexes planned for the old wharves behind Maverick Square, at least one may break ground by the fall -- but it won't necessarily be the flagship Portside at Pier One.

With Portside developer Roseland Development Company fighting an appeal to the state Department of Environmental Protection, a more likely candidate for a speedy groundbreaking is Hodge Boiler Works, a smaller project of 100 condos to be built around an atrium on a site once used to build ships' boilers. Developer Phillip DeNormandie said he expects to finish city and state permitting in the next few weeks and break ground in early fall.

At Clippership Wharf, next door to Portside, developers are still working with Boston Redevelopment Authority officials on the design and aren't expected to finish the state's environmental impact review until year's end, according to the BRA.

On Porter Street, developer Bill Anderson may beat all three. He expects to have permits in place and break ground later this spring. The project contemplates transforming the shuttered Goddess Bra factory into 218 ''Atrium Lofts" condominiums. Today, the property overlooks rusted and graffiti-splashed airport access ramps, cracked asphalt, and a rundown soccer stadium.

But the area is undergoing a makeover. As part of a Mass Pike-Route 1A interchange highway contract, workers have paved over old railroad tracks to create the first leg of a new greenway. They're also revamping the stadium and building a new park on Bremen Street.

Boston Natural Areas Network's Lauri Webster said the park will begin taking shape this summer and urged residents to get involved.

''It's going to take some effort on the part of the community to make sure what gets built is what was agreed on," she said. ''It's the end of the project, we are on the verge of entering a very important phase from the community perspective."

On the transportation front, the new Airport T station is slated to open later this month, while the Maverick station rebuild is 99 percent designed, according to Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority spokesman Joe Pesaturo. He said a new Maverick stop remains on track for the end of 2006, though whether it can be considered on time depends on when you start counting.

That station was originally scheduled for 2004. Then, MBTA officials pushed back the date to 2008, causing neighborhood uproar and prompting T officials to promise the 2006 opening date.

Also on the tardy list are the long-awaited ''Melting Pot" cafe and the second phase of Piers Park. Michael Cicalese, an investor in the cafe, said he and his partners had been bogged down by the city's permitting process, but hoped to finish remodeling and open the place this summer. There is no start day in sight for Piers Park II, however, which is apparently languishing for lack of state funding.

From The Boston Globe

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The feeling that you used to get in East Boston was being on the end of the world. The new tunnel has radically changed that. I think that some developers are stalling because they don't want to sell their units at essentially a discount if the neighborhood takes off like Charlestown. Right now the view of an old boiler works or half sunken pleasure boats isn't very inviting in spite of the skyline views.

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Guest donaltopablo

Ruling clears way for East Boston's Pier One project

Bill Archambeault

Journal Staff

A lawsuit seeking to block the waterfront development of Pier One in East Boston was dealt a strong setback last week when an administrative ruling found that the claim had no merit.

The state ruling, which is expected to be approved by the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, would clear the way for Short Hills, N.J.-based Roseland Property Co. to redevelop a 13.2-acre parcel owned by the Massachusetts Port Authority. Roseland is planning for a groundbreaking sometime this summer.

The project, called Portside at Pier One, calls for developing eight residential buildings on the site, with ground-floor retail space. To comply with a memorandum of understanding signed by Massport and the DEP on Feb. 15, 2002, Roseland has to provide public and water-based access to the site, including a water taxi stop and public boat landing.

Portside at Pier One is part of a larger, $15 million project Roseland is undertaking. The total project totals 26 acres and includes refurbishing the docks and marina at the East Boston Shipyard.

"The East Boston waterfront is poised to take off," said Jamie Fay, president of Fort Point Associates Inc., a Boston-based firm that is handling Roseland's permitting in addition to two other East Boston port projects.

"You could have 3,000 people living there before you know it," Fay said. "It's very exciting to think about, creating a whole new neighborhood in a short time," Fay said. "You've got people who've been looking out at a rotting wharf and falling-down piers for 30 years waiting for the day when this would finally happen."

The site is currently occupied by "a large warehouse in poor condition" and a 5.4-acre pier.

Given that DEP had reached the original agreement with Massport for the development guidelines, the parties involved expect a quick endorsement of the ruling, though DEP officials could not say how long that would take.

Mark Silverstein, administrative magistrate with the state's Division of Administrative Law Appeals, recommended that a suit filed by 10 citizens lacked standing. Silverstein's recommendation cannot be appealed, though the commissioner's decision can be appealed to Superior Court.

Stevan Goldin, a Gloucester resident, filed the petition on behalf of 10 other residents opposed to the project. He could not be reached for comment. The opponents argued that Roseland's project did not meet goals for enhancing water-dependent industrial uses on the waterfront.

But Nancy Sterling, a spokeswoman for Mintz Levin Cohen Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC, Roseland's law firm, said she would be surprised if there were an appeal, given Silverstein's findings.

"It's a very definitive ruling," Sterling said. "We're looking forward to the commissioner issuing the license shortly. We think it's unlikely they'd appeal."

"Roseland is hoping to transform an East Boston neighborhood and make it a vibrant community," she said.

Michael Leon, a partner at Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP, the Boston-based law firm representing Massport, said he wouldn't be surprised to see a final decision within a week.

In addition to the development of the current site, Roseland will pay nearly $8 million to support water-dependent uses in the port.

"What's really critical about this project, and what Massport finds most important, is (that) this development is key to providing financial support to the working port. It certainly is in need of it," Leon said.

The DEP issued a waterways license to Roseland on Nov. 21, that requires:

Construction and maintenance of a 22-foot area along the perimeter of Pier One for industrial water-dependent uses.

Pathways and open space along the entire waterfront perimeter of the project.

An outdoor plaza with a "landmark" feature such as a fountain or monument.

At least 25 percent of the ground floor of buildings located on filled tidelands be set aside for public use.

At least 3,200 square feet of ground-floor space facing the water in one of the buildings for public use of events, exhibits and educational uses.

Water-dependent, industrial uses in 48 percent of four buildings, or 33,816 square feet.

A $5.7 million payment by Roseland to support water-dependent industrial uses in the adjacent East Boston Shipyard (to offset the use of upper-floor residences on the site).

A $2.2 million payment by Roseland to support water-dependent industrial uses in the project area or the East Boston Shipyard, additional water-transportation facilities or enhancement of public access or public activities in the project area (to offset private facilities on the ground floor).

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On the waterfront, luxury, conflict loom

By Christine MacDonald, Globe Correspondent

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Great to see so much happening in the neighborhood of my birth.

I'd love to one day see a bridge with pedestrian access span the harbor from East Boston to downtown, like the Mass. Ave Bridge over the Charles. I don't know if that's even possible, but it'd sure be great

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The Hope VI redevelopment of Maverick Gardens public housing complex into mixed-income Maverick Landing is officially compelete. Yesterday, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony for a park on the site.

Maverick Landing's last 166 units were completed early this year, and the entire complex is occupied. The first 230 apartments and 30 condominiums opened two years ago.


Neighborhood streets that were cut off years ago are now restored, and 305 of the units are apartments that rent at affordable prices, for households earning about $50,000 a year or below. On the water side, at Carlton Wharf, with breathtaking views of the harbor and the downtown skyline, are 30 condominiums, priced for households making about the average income for the area. Maverick Landing includes 91 market-rate rental units.

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